Suns-Wizards Preview

The Associated Press

Stellar outside shooting performances from John Wall don't occur with great regularity.

They're not quite as rare, though, as Washington Wizards victories over the Phoenix Suns.

Wall looks to stay hot while helping Washington avoid an 11th straight loss to Phoenix on Saturday night at the Verizon Center.

The Wizards (22-42) have been playing fairly well of late despite still missing injured rookie Bradley Beal, who has been out for the last six games with a sprained left ankle.

Washington has won three of its last four and Wall has been a major factor, averaging 26.3 points and 11.0 assists over his last three after finishing with a season-high 29 points and nine assists in Friday's 96-87 win over New Orleans.

The point guard is shooting 59.2 percent in that stretch, including a 3-for-3 performance from 3-point range while hitting 12 of 15 from the field Friday. He went 3 for 42 from long range during the lockout-shortened 66-game season in 2011-12, and entered the last contest 3 for 20 over his first 30 games after sitting out the first part of this season with a knee injury.

"You look at Jason Kidd, he didn't start making 3s until late in his career,'' said Wall, who hit 9 of 12 from at least 13 feet away. "As long as I can make the mid-range (shot) and improve my game and help my teammates out, that's all that matters to me.''

The Wizards are 14-4 in their last 18 at the Verizon Center after dropping 13 of 16 on their home floor to begin the season. They've won four straight at home, with Wall shooting 62.5 percent during that streak.

"Larry Bird didn't have the picture-perfect shot, but he shot it the same way every time," coach Randy Wittman said. "... John, he's got to make it the same shot. He can't take two different shots.''

Wall, though, is averaging only 11.0 points and shooting 33.3 percent in three career games versus the Suns, who have won the last 10 meetings by an average of 17.5 points.

Phoenix also has won six straight matchups in Washington - the last five by double digits - but it enters this contest just 7-27 on the road after falling 107-94 at Atlanta on Friday.

Goran Dragic finished with 21 points and eight assists for the Suns (22-44), who have lost five of six - with the defeats coming by an average of 18.8 points. They are tied with New Orleans for the Western Conference's worst record.

"It's tough, but everybody is a professional and we have to play right to the end of the season,'' Dragic said.

Phoenix committed 24 turnovers Friday after finishing with 22 in a 111-81 loss at Houston on Wednesday. It ranks near the bottom of the league with 15.5 giveaways per game.

"(The turnovers were) pretty much the ballgame for us," interim coach Lindsey Hunter said. "And some of our shots were like turnovers because they were pretty bad. On the road, you can't turn the ball over and make mental mistakes defensively.

"It's just a process of us learning how to finish games and how to win tough road games.''

The Wizards haven't beaten the Suns since a 144-139 overtime victory Dec. 22, 2006.

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