The Washington Wizards opened their five-game road trip with a pair of surprising victories before suffering ugly back-to-back defeats.
Concluding their trek on a positive note could prove difficult with a visit to Phoenix in store.
The Wizards try to avoid a 10th consecutive loss to the Suns as the teams meet for the only time this season Monday night.
After dropping 10 of its first 11 road games, Washington (7-24) shot a combined 53.5 percent to open its trip with a 98-77 win at Detroit on Feb. 12 and a 124-109 victory at Portland on Tuesday.
The Wizards, however, failed to carry any momentum into their next two games. Two nights after falling 102-84 at the Los Angeles Clippers, Washington was handed a 114-100 defeat at Utah on Friday.
"We weren't getting back, taking tough shots and not playing defense," said John Wall, who scored 24 points. "To give up 100 points in three quarters is unnecessary. It's tough to win those games on the road."
The Wizards haven't completed a road trip of four games or more with at least a .500 record since going 3-1 from Dec. 17-22, 2006. Washington concluded that trek with a 144-139 overtime win at Phoenix (13-19) and is hoping for a similar result in this one.
"Just try to make the last one a blowout for us," Wall said. "Were 2-2, you want the last one to end up on your terms ... (we) just gotta keep battling and try to get a win in Phoenix."
If their recent efforts in this series are any indication, the Wizards could have a hard time keeping up with the Suns. Washington has been outscored by an average of 17.7 points in dropping nine consecutive meetings with Phoenix - including a 109-91 home defeat Jan. 21, 2011, in the most recent matchup.
The Suns concluded a home-and-home set with the Los Angeles Lakers and snapped a four-game losing streak with Sunday's 102-90 victory. Marcin Gortat posted 21 points and 15 rebounds for his fourth double-double in five games while Jared Dudley scored a season-high 25.
"I think offensively we were really efficient and we did a good job of executing," coach Alvin Gentry said. "(Jared Dudley) came up with some good shots for us and Marcin seems to be playing really solid night in and night out."
Phoenix may want to think about calling Dudley's number a bit more. The Suns improved to 6-1 when he scores at least 16 points.
While Phoenix had plenty to feel good about following Sunday's win, Gentry was quick to turn his attention to the Wizards.
"We still have to come back (Monday) and play well. (Washington) is a real talented team; I don't think you can judge them by their record," he said. "They've got a lot of real young players. Yeah we are playing at home, but once again we've got to come back and do a good job."
Even with Sunday's win, the Suns are just 3-6 over their last nine games at the US Airways Center. Phoenix is averaging 95.6 points at home this season - nearly 10 points lower than its 105.5 mark from 2010-11.
Steve Nash is averaging 13.4 assists in his last nine games, recording double digits in each. He's averaging 18.5 points and 14.1 assists in his last 11 meetings with Washington.
- Jared Dudley