While Brandon Knight seeks to build on his best scoring performance since coming to Phoenix, the Suns try to boost their playoff hopes Friday night by dealing a blow to the Brooklyn Nets’ chances.
The Suns got the high-scoring Knight from Milwaukee in a three-team deal Feb. 19, and he had a combined 39 points in his first two starts with his new team before briefly losing his shooting touch. The fourth-year guard went 9 of 34 from the field in his next three games, including 0 for 6 in a 101-74 loss to San Antonio on Saturday.
Knight broke free of that slump by hitting 7 of 15 from the floor and scoring 28 points in a 105-100 win over Orlando on Wednesday. He also had a key steal in the final seconds, converted four late free throws and had seven assists while helping the Suns (32-30) avoid a third consecutive defeat.
"I wanted to keep us together," Knight told the team’s official website. "I wanted to make sure to keep things positive and help us keep fighting."
However, the win did mark the third straight game that Phoenix fell behind by at least 15 points in the first half.
"We’ve got to come out and go at people, make people guard us. The last few games we’ve been kind of back on our toes," said P.J. Tucker, who scored all 19 of his points in the second half. "We’ve got to hit people and put them back on their toes and attack. When we do that, we can play with any team in the league."
The Suns are 10th in the Western Conference and well within striking distance of eighth-place Oklahoma City. They’ll next face the 10th-place team in the East while trying to win consecutive road games for the first time since Jan. 6-7.
Brooklyn (25-34) is among a six-team group in a tight competition for the final two playoff spots in the East and let Charlotte move into sole possession of eighth place with a 115-91 win at Barclays Center on Wednesday.
The Nets couldn’t recover from a 20-point deficit at the end of the first quarter and shot 39.8 percent after hitting a combined 50.6 percent in back-to-back wins, including a 110-108 victory over West-leading Golden State on Monday. The loss also snapped a season-high three-game home win streak.
"Teams are not going to give it to us, so we have to keep going out there fighting and keep playing the basketball we know we can play," forward Thaddeus Young said. "If we go out there and get back to ourselves, we’ll be fine."
Phoenix rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat Brooklyn 112-104 on Nov. 12, ending a five-game skid in the series. Gerald Green provided a season-high 28 points that day but didn’t play Wednesday after struggling in the previous three games, totaling nine points on 4-of-18 shooting.
The Suns have taken two of three on the road after losing a season-worst seven in a row, but they’ve dropped their two games in Brooklyn by a combined 33 points.
Deron Williams paced the Nets with 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting in Phoenix’s most recent visit, a 108-95 victory March 17. Williams had 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting Wednesday after averaging 22.5 in Brooklyn’s back-to-back wins.
Former Sun Joe Johnson, averaging 15.2 points, has scored seven over the last two games while shooting 3 of 13.