Preview: Suns at Nets, 4 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona Plus
NEW YORK — The Phoenix Suns are off to an eventful 2-4 start, but things seem to have quieted since Earl Watson was fired after the team dropped its first three games. Phoenix lost its opening three games by a combined 92 points, and on Oct. 22, and Eric Bledsoe sent out a tweet that apparently expressed his frustrations.
The Suns won their first two games under interim coach Jay Triano, beating the Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz at home. They opened a four-game trip Saturday with a 114-107 loss at Portland, but they’ll look to get back on a winning track on Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets.
Under Triano, Suns are allowing 105.7 points and holding opponents to 36.5 percent on 3-point attempts. In the first three games, the Suns gave up 128.7 points and allowed the opposition to make 50 percent of its 3-point shots. Bledsoe, meanwhile, has not played since scoring four points on Oct. 21 as the team tries to trade him.
The Suns were within two points of Portland with less than two minutes to go before the Blazers managed to pull away, but the margin of defeat was 41 points closer than when the two teams met on opening night in Phoenix.
“We didn’t finish our shots down the stretch, but we put ourselves in position to win a game on the road,” Triano said. “I give our guys a lot of credit.”
Devin Booker scored 34 points in the loss on 11-of-19 shooting.
“You never want to lose, but losing the right way is always better than what happened the first time,” he said. “So I see a lot of improvements.”
Booker turned 21 on Monday. On Saturday, he scored 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting. His 2,897 career points are the fourth most in NBA history before age 21. Only LeBron James (4,649), Kevin Durant (3,495) and Carmelo Anthony (3,283) scored more before turning 21.
The Nets have lost two in a row since last week’s homecourt victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Nets showed little energy in a blowout road loss Friday to the New York Knicks and then got run out of their own building in the third quarter Sunday by the Denver Nuggets. It was their first loss in four games on their home court.
Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson admitted he was concerned about a possible hangover from his team’s 112-107 win over the Cavaliers.
The Nets (3-4) shot 40.5 percent and were dominated inside during a 107-86 loss to the Knicks.
Sunday might have been even worse. The Nets held a 14-point lead in the first half, gave up a 31-6 run in the third quarter by missing 14 of their first 16 shots and wound up with a 124-111 loss to the Nuggets.
“They made a run, and we called a couple of timeouts to try to get it back, but we just never responded,” Atkinson said. “Then we kind of wilted, and obviously we needed better leadership at that time. But it’s up to our young guys, too. It’s on them to learn from this and get better from it. But we didn’t respond at all.”
The Nets would like to correct their issues from the past two losses, especially with what lies ahead. After Tuesday, the Nets begin a five-game road trip, and they will play nine of their next 13 on the road.
D’Angelo Russell did not play in the thrilling win over Cleveland because of a right knee injury, and he did not play well in the last two games. He averaged 23 points in the first four contests, but in his past two games, Russell has totaled 27 points, nine assists and eight turnovers on 9-of-22 shooting (1-of-8 from 3-point range).
“I do think — this is every NBA player, and other sports, too — when you have a little injury, it takes a little time to get your rhythm, just get it back,” Atkinson said. “And I’m sure he’s searching for it. He’ll get it back. He started the season really strong and, got dinged up a little. I think it’s a question of rhythm.”
While Russell and the Nets look to regain their rhythm, they might be forced to find it without two of their better 3-point shooters.
Quincy Acy, who leads the team at 52.4 percent from 3-point range, will miss his second consecutive game with a strained left groin. DeMarre Carroll, who is shooting 41.4 percent from behind the arc, sat out Sunday with a sore right ankle and is questionable for Tuesday.
Brooklyn has won nine of the last 11 meetings vs. the Suns and walloped them 126-98 in their most recent meeting in New York on March 23.