Nets-Suns Preview


The New Jersey Nets' offense finally came to life, but it still wasn't enough to get a win. While the offensive outburst was encouraging, it couldn't overshadow their sudden defensive shortcomings.

The scuffling Nets try to avoid losing a fourth straight game and earn a rare win in Phoenix on Friday night against the Suns.

New Jersey (2-9) arrives in the desert after opening a four-game road trip with a 123-115 loss to Denver on Wednesday.

The Nets finally found their shooting touch, connecting on 51.8 percent of their shots - the first time they shot better than 47 percent. They made a season-high 20 3-pointers on 35 attempts, with Jordan Farmar going 6 for 8 from behind the arc to finish with a season-best 26 points.

"Things don't always go the way we plan," said Farmar, who averaged 5.6 points in his first eight games. "But you just have to keep working, and when it comes to fruition on the court, it feels good."

Deron Williams, who averages a team-best 16.9 points, had 16 points and 13 assists while shooting 6 of 14. He was shooting 31.4 percent from the floor in his previous three games.

Despite the loss, it seemed to be a step in the right direction for the Nets, who came in with the NBA's third-worst average (87.0 points).

"Pretty good offense for our team. Any time we score 115 points, you would think it was going to be a win,'' coach Avery Johnson said. "We just couldn't get any stops defensively.''

That is suddenly becoming somewhat of a concern for New Jersey.

After allowing an average of 96.1 points on 46.8 percent shooting in the first eight games, the Nets are allowing an average of 110.0 points on 54.4 percent shooting during their skid. Two of their last three losses, however, came to the two highest-scoring teams in the league, Miami and Denver.

Phoenix (4-6) is no longer considered a similar offensive threat.

The Suns have been held to 90 or fewer points five times already after doing so eight times all of last season. They're coming off Thursday's 101-90 loss to Cleveland, their second straight defeat.

Steve Nash had 15 assists and led six Phoenix players in double figures with 16 points, becoming the 15th active player to reach 16,000. Marcin Gortat, who averages a team-best 12.8 points, scored 14 and Michael Redd, playing his first game for Phoenix, had 12 points in 19 minutes.

"(I was) a little rusty, which is to be expected," said Redd, who played in only 10 games last season and 28 in the last two years combined because of various knee injuries. "Just got to find my game legs and game rhythm and just try to figure out the system on offense."

Before embarking on a five-game road trip, the Suns hope facing the Nets at US Airways Center can help them bounce back. They've won 16 of the last 17 over New Jersey in Phoenix, and nine of the last 10 meetings overall.

The Suns swept the series from the Nets for the second straight season in 2010-11, but both games went to overtime.

A big reason New Jersey came close twice was the play of Brook Lopez, who averaged 22.0 points and 9.0 rebounds. Lopez, whose twin brother Robin is a backup center for the Suns, has yet to play this season because of a stress fracture in his right foot.