Suns head to Denver looking to reverse fortunes vs. skidding Nuggets
Not surprisingly, the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets have continued to stumble after shipping out key players at the trade deadline.
Both teams are winless since those deals were made, leaving Phoenix at risk of falling to .500 for the first time in two months and Denver hoping to avoid its longest home losing streak in 17 years as they meet Wednesday night.
The Nuggets (20-36) have dropped 16 of 18 to fall out of the playoff picture, and it seems the Suns (29-28) may be doing the same after losing eight of nine. Both are 0-3 since reshaping their rosters hours before Thursday’s deadline.
Denver dealt Arron Afflalo to Portland and reserve JaVale McGee to Philadelphia, getting back five unheralded players. Two — Thomas Robinson and Victor Claver — were subsequently waived on Sunday. At least Phoenix landed high-scoring Milwaukee guard Brandon Knight after a pair of major trades, sending Goran Dragic to Miami and Isaiah Thomas to Boston.
"Chemistry doesn’t happen overnight," Knight said after scoring 20 points in his second game with Phoenix, a 115-110 loss to Boston on Tuesday. "It’s not two games, three games, four games, sometimes it takes a while."
The Suns have had a winning record every day since reaching 15-14 on Dec. 21 but would be back at .500 on Wednesday if their losing streak reaches six, which would match a season high. They held a two-game lead for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference on Jan. 30 but have since fallen to 10th.
"As bad as it may seem, we’re still not out," said guard Eric Bledsoe, who had 21 points and 10 assists Tuesday. "At the end of the day, we still gotta think positive. We got a Denver team that’s struggling just like we are, so we’re looking forward to going in and try to get a win."
Phoenix has allowed an average of 116.3 points in the last four games, so it may benefit from facing a Nuggets team which has been dreadful offensively since its roster overhaul with an average of 85.7 points on 34.9 percent shooting.
Due greatly to their poor defense, the Suns have trailed by double digits in the first half in seven of eight games this month.
"It’s hard to battle back," coach Jeff Hornacek said. "We’re putting so much pressure on the offense to outscore a team. We’ve got to figure out a way to stop these guys."
As Phoenix looks to halt a seven-game road losing streak, the Nuggets hope to end their skid in the Pepsi Center at seven — a dubious feat for a team seemingly with a great home-court advantage due to Denver’s high altitude. The only longer single-season home losing streak in franchise history was an 11-game slide in 1997-98.
The Nuggets are coming off their most lopsided home loss of the season, 110-82 to Brooklyn on Tuesday.
"Throughout the whole season, almost every game, we cannot be consistent," said forward Danilo Gallinari, who had 22 points. "That has been our problem and it was our problem tonight, too."
It’s unclear if Wilson Chandler will play after sitting out with a sore groin. Kenneth Faried returned after bruising his thumb in his first game off the bench since December but remains in a funk, averaging 4.0 points on 28.0 percent shooting in the last four games.
These teams split two meetings in November, with each winning at home.