Suns-Heat Preview

The Associated Press

Even without their leading scorer, the Phoenix Suns have gotten back on track during their eastern trip.

They'll face their toughest test yet against the red-hot defending NBA champions.

Hoping to have Eric Bledsoe back, the Suns will try to capture their third straight win Monday night when they visit a Miami Heat team seeking its seventh straight victory.

Following a four-game losing streak that dropped them below .500 for the first time, Phoenix (7-6) has bounced back with back-to-back wins to open this three-game road swing.

Channing Frye led the way with a season-high 20 points and five 3-pointers and P.J. Tucker added 17 in Friday's 98-91 victory in Charlotte. Two days later, Goran Dragic finished with 23 points and a season-best 13 assists, while Gerald Green had 20 points and four 3s in a 104-96 win in Orlando.

Dragic, who had the team's final seven points Sunday, is averaging 22.7 points and 8.7 assists over his last three contests.

"We have been having a hard time holding leads. ... Goran did an excellent job of closing out the game," Green said. "He is a savvy point guard in this league. When he makes plays like that it is hard to stop us."

The Suns are holding their own without Bledsoe, averaging 103.0 points and shooting 40.4 percent from 3-point range in their last four games. They had scored 98.8 per game and hit 35.7 percent from long range in their first nine contests with him.

Bledsoe, averaging a team- and career-high 20.4 points, is expected to be a game-time decision because of a bruised shin. If he can't go, Green figures to get another start after scoring 20.0 per game and hitting 14 of 33 from beyond the arc in his last four.

The Suns are hoping to carry their momentum into a difficult matchup in Miami, where they haven't won since Nov. 3, 2009. They've dropped six straight overall against the two-time defending champs, who are 7-1 at home this season.

In the most recent meeting in Miami, LeBron James finished with a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds, and Dwyane Wade scored 22 in a 124-99 victory on Nov. 5, 2012.

On Saturday, James had 22 points - including the go-ahead jumper with 15.1 seconds left - as the Heat (10-3) rallied from 16 down in the second half to beat visiting Orlando 101-99. The four-time MVP reached double figures for the 508th straight regular-season game, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the fifth-longest streak in NBA history.

"LeBron in space, and he'll take care of the rest," said coach Eric Spoelstra, whose team has won six consecutive games by an average of 15.1 points.

Wade appeared to be fine with 27 points in his return from a two-game absence because of a knee injury, while Chris Bosh added 15.

Bosh has played well against Phoenix, averaging 26.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in his last 10 meetings dating to his days in Toronto.

The Heat, who rank among the league's top five in most offensive categories, have averaged 110.2 points while winning nine of 10 meetings with the Suns.

They'll try to continue that production against a Phoenix team that has given up a total of 187 points on this trip after allowing 220 in its previous two losses.

What to Read Next