After an impressive stretch brought them back into the playoff picture, the Phoenix Suns suddenly find themselves on the verge of their longest losing streak of the season.
A matchup against the Golden State Warriors could help them regroup.
Hoping to avoid a fifth consecutive loss, the Suns will try for a 12th straight home win over the Warriors, who begin a four-game trip Friday night.
Phoenix (33-33), which lost 21 of its first 36 games and sat in 11th place in the Western Conference on Jan. 11, had moved up to ninth last week following an 18-8 run.
The Suns, though, have since averaged just 93.3 points on 42.2 percent shooting en route to a season-worst-tying four consecutive defeats.
After missing his second straight contest with pelvic instability in a 95-93 loss Monday at Houston, Steve Nash(notes) returned to the lineup and registered eight points and 10 assists in Wednesday’s 100-95 loss at New Orleans.
“He tried, but he’s not the same guy,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “I didn’t expect him to be. Just to have him out there was good for us. He’s not going to be at 100 percent, and with him that’s important that he has the zip.”
The loss dropped Phoenix back into 11th in the conference, and with only 16 games remaining, its playoff hopes seem to be quickly fading.
“Every loss hurts and definitely every loss is going to make a difference for this run towards the playoffs,” said reserve center Marcin Gortat(notes), averaging 14.3 points and 10.0 rebounds in his last 12 games.
The Suns and Warriors (30-38) are two of the highest-scoring teams in the league, averaging 104.7 and 103.2 points, respectively.
Phoenix, though, has held Golden State to an average of 90.0 points on 41.6 percent shooting in the last two meetings to extend its winning streak in the series to five games.
The Warriors last won at Phoenix 110-100 on March 18, 2005, and have since been outscored by an average of 12.6 points over 11 consecutive losses at US Airways Center.
Golden State, which sits in 12th place in the West - four games behind Phoenix - fell 112-106 to Dallas on Wednesday night despite leading by as many as 18 in the second quarter.
“It was tough. We should have had that game,” said Monta Ellis(notes), who had 26 points and 11 assists. “I take the blame. I made some mistakes at the end, turned the ball over and didn’t hit the shots I needed to. I also waited too long to get everybody involved at the end of the game.”
Ellis, among the league’s top 10 with 24.8 points per game, was held to eight on 4-of-13 shooting in a 112-88 loss at Phoenix on Feb. 10. He is averaging 15.5 points on 34.2 percent shooting in his last two road contests.
The Warriors, losers of nine of 13 overall and nine of 12 on the road, haven’t been swept by Phoenix since 2001-02.
The Suns, however, have been outscored by an average of 21.0 points in their last two home games. They haven’t lost three straight at home since Jan. 16-31, 2009.