After a fruitless road trip, the Phoenix Suns probably can’t
wait for their next game at U.S. Airways Center.
Awaiting the NBA’s only unbeaten home team, however, is one of
the league’s best road squads.
The Suns will attempt to keep their perfect record intact Friday
night with their eighth consecutive home win against the Orlando
Magic, who will try to put a second-half collapse behind them.
Following a 14-3 start, fatigue appears to have set in for
Phoenix, who have played a league-high 15 road games. The Suns
(15-7) have gone from averaging 112.0 points during their hot start
to 98.6 while losing four of five this month – all away from
In the finale of a winless two-game swing Tuesday, they stayed
close with Dallas before falling behind by 10 in the final period.
Phoenix rallied to within a on Steve Nash’s 3-pointer with seven
seconds left, but couldn’t catch the Mavericks in a 102-101
“We’ve had 15 road games, so we’re a little bit tired,” Nash
said. “We’ve got to fight through that. The legs are a little
tired, but nobody cares. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us.”
The Magic are definitely not one of those teams after seeing
their six-game win streak and run of eight consecutive road
victories end Thursday in Utah.
Orlando (17-5) scored 60 in the first half and led by as many as
18, but saw its advantage cut to eight at halftime and allowed the
Jazz to start the second half on a 14-3 run.
“Once we gave them confidence, gave them an opportunity to
really get rolling, it was tough to stop that machine,” swingman
Vince Carter said.
The Magic never recovered from there in a 120-111 defeat, their
first away from home since Nov. 8. They had also previously won 23
straight dating back to last season when scoring at least 100,
including a 122-100 home win over Phoenix on Nov. 4.
Despite playing without an injured Carter, Orlando had six
players in double figures, led by Dwight Howard’s 25 points. Ryan
Anderson had his fourth career double-double – 20 points and 10
rebounds – to hand the Suns their first loss this season.
Carter, who scored a season-high 34 Thursday, has helped the
defending Eastern Conference champions to a 10-3 road record this
season. Playing in 11 games away from home, Carter has averaged
He leads the Magic with 20.1 points, just ahead of Howard
(18.4). Carter also has scored an average of 25.6 points in 10
career games at U.S. Airways Center.
Amare Stoudemire, meanwhile, has led the Suns to a 7-0 mark at
home with 22.4 points on 61.7 percent shooting, but he also appears
to be dealing with fatigue lately with one 20-point performance in
his last seven contests overall.
Stoudemire led the Suns with 25 points and 14 rebounds earlier
this season at Orlando. He missed last season’s final meeting with
the Magic, a 111-99 loss on March 3, with a partially detached
retina in his right eye.
Along with its third straight win in the series, Orlando is
searching for its first victory in Phoenix since Nov. 14, 2001.