The Charlotte Bobcats’ season-high, six-game Western Conference road trip might not provide the ideal opportunity for them to end their struggles away from home.
After dropping the opener of the trip, the Bobcats look to avoid a fourth consecutive loss Tuesday night while again trying for their first road victory against the Phoenix Suns.
Aiming for the franchise’s first playoff appearance, the Bobcats’ current road swing could be the defining stretch of a season during which success has been dictated by where the team is playing.
Eighth in the East, Charlotte (21-22) is 18-5 at home but 3-17 on the road, where it fell 104-93 to Denver on Monday. The Bobcats have lost their last seven road games against teams from the West, including all four this season.
Now, they head to Phoenix where they’ve allowed 119.2 points per game while going 0-5 since entering the league in 2004-05.
Charlotte, though, recorded a season-high point total in a 125-99 home victory over the Suns (26-20) on Jan. 16. The Bobcats shot 50.5 percent in that game, but they’re averaging 89.5 points per contest while making 44.7 percent of their shots away from home.
The Bobcats were competitive throughout Monday’s loss, but Denver’s 13-4 run midway through the third quarter helped send Charlotte to its third straight loss after a season-high six-game winning streak - all at home.
Stephen Jackson(notes) scored 22 points and Gerald Wallace(notes) added 20 against Denver. Averaging 20.0 points on the season, Jackson had 29 with eight assists, five rebounds and five steals against the Suns earlier this month.
Wallace bounced back Monday after being held to nine points and 2-of-11 shooting in a 106-95 overtime home loss to Orlando on Saturday. Wallace also had 29 points while posting 13 boards versus the Suns.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they made the playoffs,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said of Charlotte after the teams’ last meeting. “And I wouldn’t be surprised if they made it tough on somebody.”
Owners of a 17-5 home mark, the Suns return to US Airways Center after blowing a big lead to lose for the sixth time in eight games, 124-115 at Utah on Monday.
“We were up 17 (points in the third quarter). We’ve got to be able to maintain that,” Gentry said after his team allowed more than 120 points for the fourth time in eight contests.
Dragic, averaging 8.2 points in his second NBA season, has totaled 52 points and shot 15 of 22 in his last two games.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Gentry said. “It’s one of those situations where he gets the experience a little bit more every time and as he gets the experience he adds a lot more confidence.”
Headed to his sixth All-Star game next month, Nash is averaging 18.4 points and 11.0 assists this season, but he’s been held to 9.8 and 6.6, respectively, in his last five games against the Bobcats. He had five of each in this month’s loss at Charlotte.
Phoenix is 9-2 all-time against the Bobcats.