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24-18

Wizards-Suns Preview

AP - Sports

The Phoenix Suns were pegged by many to finish at the bottom of the Western Conference.

However, after an impressive blowout of the NBA's top team, they sit at their schedule's halfway point only one victory shy of matching last season's total.

They'll look for their 25th win Friday night at home against the inconsistent Washington Wizards.

Expectations were low in Phoenix with the club coming off a 57-loss season and losing featured players such as Luis Scola, Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat, who is now with Washington.

The Suns (24-17), though, occupy the seventh spot in the highly competitive West and are coming off a 124-100 victory over Indiana on Wednesday.

"We've got to stay humble," guard Gerald Green, who scored 23 to lead six Suns in double figures, told the team's official website. "We've got to continue to work."

Phoenix shot 54.2 percent and was 11 of 16 from 3-point range with 28 fast-break points against the Pacers, who lead the league in field-goal and scoring defense.

"We should play like that every game," said guard Goran Dragic, who scored 21 on 8-of-10 shooting and is averaging 22.2 points over his last 13 contests while shooting 52.5 percent. "We should play like that against everybody, even if they are last in the standings."

The Suns continue to be much more potent offensively at home, where they've won four of five and are 15-6 on the season. They average 109.2 points while shooting 39.5 percent from 3-point range at US Airways Center compared to a 99.4 scoring average and 34.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc on the road.

The Wizards (20-21) squandered their fourth opportunity to surpass the .500 mark with a 113-111 overtime loss to visiting Boston on Wednesday.

The defeat was particularly disappointing considering the Celtics had lost 12 of 13 and were without Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. Washington yielded 39 points to Jeff Green and allowed Gerald Wallace to score the winning layup with 2.5 seconds left.

The Wizards haven't been over .500 since starting 2-1 in 2009-10. Coach Randy Wittman attributed the loss to what he described as an "I got mine" attitude from some of his players, something point guard John Wall didn't disagree with.

Wall had 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his second career triple-double, but he only hit 9 of a career-high 29 field-goal attempts and missed a potential winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. Backcourt mate Bradley Beal was 7 of 16, including 0 for 4 from long range.

"It starts with me," Wall said. "I took too many shots tonight and didn't move the ball like we're supposed to in the first half. ... For some reason, we don't go out there in that first half when we've got an opportunity to go (above) .500 and play as a team. We get to playing selfish."

Washington is averaging 45.5 points and 9.3 assists in the first half of the four games it entered with a .500 record, down from its season averages of 50.0 and 12.0 in the first 24 minutes.

Gortat, who averaged 13.4 points and 9.3 rebounds over two seasons for Phoenix before being traded to the Wizards in October, has double-doubles in three straight contests.

The Suns had taken 10 straight meetings until Washington won both matchups last season for its first sweep since 2001-02.

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