Suns take quest for playoff berth to L.A.
The Phoenix Suns are attempting to surge toward their first playoff berth in four years and will try to take another step by sweeping the season series with the Los Angeles Lakers for the first time in nine seasons.
The Suns will try to claim a seventh consecutive victory Sunday night by denying the Lakers their season high-tying third win in a row at home.
Phoenix is riding its longest win streak since a 10-game run March 14-April 2, 2010, but has just a half-game lead over Memphis and Dallas in the race for the Western Conference’s final two postseason spots.
The Suns (44-29) maintained sole possession of seventh place in the West with a 112-88 rout of visiting New York on Friday. Despite a size disadvantage, Phoenix outrebounded the Knicks 56-37 and had a 46-24 edge in points in the paint.
Goran Dragic had a team-best 32 points for the Suns, who will seek to match a season high with a fourth consecutive road win Sunday. They last won four straight away from home Jan. 26-30.
Phoenix will also try to sweep the four-game season series against the Lakers for the first time since 2004-05. The Suns had three players with 20 or more points and five with at least 15 in the most recent matchup, a 121-114 home victory Jan. 15.
— Goran Dragic (@Goran_Dragic) March 30, 2014
Gerald Green led the way with 28 points in that game, and Dragic had 12 of his 31 in the fourth quarter of a 114-108 win at the Lakers on Dec. 10. Marcus Morris contributed a season-high 22 points as Phoenix snapped a five-game road skid in the series and earned just their second victory in the last 14 visits, including the postseason.
The Lakers (24-48), who are a defeat away from losing their most games since 1993-94, enter this one having dropped nine of 12, but have posted back-to-back home victories, including a 127-96 rout of New York on Tuesday. They haven’t won three straight at the Staples Center since Nov. 17-24 and will likely need a much better defensive performance than in their latest game Friday.
Los Angeles allowed Minnesota to score 41 points in the first quarter and at least 32 in the next three periods in a 143-107 drubbing. The Timberwolves shot 67.1 percent – the highest by any team in the league this season – and scored the most points by a Lakers’ opponent in regulation since a 146-130 loss to Denver on Nov. 6, 1984.
"Terrible right now, man," guard Nick Young said. "It’s a bad feeling."
Under former Suns coach Mike D’Antoni, the Lakers have allowed a West-worst 108.9 points per game and have given up an average of 119.1 in their last 16. Phoenix, which is averaging 110.0 points on 50.8 percent shooting in its last four games, has scored at least 114 in each of this season’s three matchups.
Pau Gasol’s status for the Lakers is unknown because of vertigo. He’s been on an injured list that includes fellow star Kobe Bryant (knee), Xavier Henry (knee) and Jordan Farmar (hamstring).
Former Suns star Steve Nash appeared in just his 12th game of the season Friday, and totaled four points and six assists in 15 minutes. The two-time league MVP has dealt with injury problems, mainly with his back, in 2013-14, but the 40-year-old stated earlier this month that he’s not planning on retiring.