The Phoenix Suns were hardly bragging about their latest win, which saw them blow a 24-point lead before hanging on.
After rallying from a similar deficit their last time out, the Indiana Pacers hope they’ve finally found some momentum.
The Suns begin a four-game road trip Wednesday night looking for their fifth straight victory at Conseco Fieldhouse, where the Pacers try to stay perfect in four January contests.
After an impressive first quarter Friday against Miami, Phoenix (24-14) struggled offensively in a 109-105 loss.
The Suns seemed to be headed down a similar path Monday when Milwaukee visited. Phoenix led 36-15 after one quarter and went ahead by as much as 24 before posting a 105-101 win, one that left the Suns wondering what they need to do to hold a lead.
“Even though it’s a win, it doesn’t feel like one,” said Jason Richardson(notes), who had 23 points. “We’ve got to take it, but we were not happy the way we played. We’ve had teams buried early and now we’ve got to learn to really bury them. Somehow we lose a lot of focus. We’ve got to figure it out.”
Phoenix blew leads of 13, 16 and 20 in its previous three games before letting the Bucks rally to take a one-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
“I’m disappointed,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “There’s a pattern that we’ve established with ourselves and we have to find a way to work our way out of it.”
One particular issue that’s let opponents come back has been the Suns’ penchant for turnovers. They’ve given it away at least 17 times in their past four games, and Steve Nash(notes) has been uncharacteristically careless.
The two-time MVP scored 30 against the Bucks but also had seven turnovers. He’s given it away an average of 6.4 times in five games this month and is averaging a career-high 4.0.
A high amount of turnovers in Indiana may not matter if Amare Stoudemire plays like he has in the Suns’ last two visits. Stoudemire has averaged 45.5 points in those wins, scoring 49 on 17-of-21 shooting in a 113-103 victory on Nov. 5, 2008.
The Pacers (12-25) have yet to lose at home in 2010, and their third straight victory at Conseco Fieldhouse was largely thanks to Danny Granger’s(notes) first game there since Nov. 27. Granger shot 32.5 percent over the weekend on the road in his first two games back from a right foot injury but was 9 of 19 and had 23 points Monday in a 105-101 comeback victory over Toronto.
The Raptors led by as many as 23 midway through the second quarter, and Granger is hoping the momentum of that comeback can lead the Pacers to their first back-to-back wins since Dec. 11-12.
“That’s the problem we’ve been having this year, just being consistent,” Granger said. “We’ll have a good showing and then a bad showing. We just need to get our confidence to the point where we really know we can win any game.”
Granger helped Indiana snap an eight-game losing streak against Phoenix on Jan. 7, 2009, as he scored 37 in a 113-110 victory. He’s been held to an average of 14.5 points during the four-game home skid versus the Suns.