The Phoenix Suns are trying to move into a Western Conference playoff position, and their chances of doing so seem better with a consistent Gerald Green.
They’ll go for their third straight win Monday night in Brooklyn as Green tries to string together consecutive solid performances after overcoming a shooting slump.
Green’s 28-point performance in Sunday’s 121-113 win in Toronto put an end to a two-game stretch in which he scored 12 points on 6-of-23 shooting. The first of those came when Eric Bledsoe returned from a 33-game absence, and Green has returned to the bench for the last two.
"He came in (Saturday) to practice, worked on his shots and he told us all he was back from his little mini-vacation," coach Jeff Hornacek said after the win. "When Gerald plays like that, he gets unstoppable. He can make all kinds of shots and I think our guys feed off that when he’s rolling."
The Suns (38-28) improved to 6-0 when Green scores 28 points or more and will now try to complete a perfect three-game road trip.
"We feel like we didn’t play the way we wanted to in Boston (Friday night) but came away with the win," Green told the team’s official website. "Tonight I just wanted to be aggressive. I’ve felt the last two games I’ve kind of been floating. My teammates have had confidence in me all year, so it’s easy to go out there and play when you have a group of guys who believe in you. I love this team and I love the way we’re playing right now."
They’ll try to use that momentum to snap a four-game losing streak against the Nets, including a 100-98 overtime loss on Nov. 15 in the desert.
Brook Lopez, now lost for the season due to injury, scored a game-high 27 points in a game where the Nets lost Deron Williams early in the first quarter to an ankle injury. Green had eight points in 18 minutes off the bench.
Though Brooklyn has won the last two meetings by two points apiece, Goran Dragic has averaged 25.0 points and 11.0 assists.
The Nets (33-31) have a more secure playoff outlook, though they did miss out on a shot to pass Washington for the No. 5 spot in the East on Saturday. Brooklyn led by 10 early in the fourth quarter but was outscored 29-12 the rest of the way in a 101-94 loss to the Wizards.
"We got great looks, it just didn’t go down," coach Jason Kidd said. "We executed plays, I think we might have gotten a little frustrated on the defensive end, when we were giving up shots, and that led to the carry-over on the offensive end."
Reserve Marcus Thornton scored a team-high 19 points and went 5 of 6 from 3-point range as the Nets remained hot from long range. They went 11 of 21 and have made 48.4 percent from 3-point range in their last four games.
Williams struggled to find his shot again, however, and is 6 for 22 in his last two games.
Despite the loss, the Nets are 7-2 since Feb. 27 and seem to have stabilized a season that got off to a rocky start.
"We had these visions of playing like this before the season started," Paul Pierce said. "Unfortunately it took longer than we expected, but I’m glad we were able to turn it around at this point in the season at the right time."
Brooklyn, 10-3 against the West since Jan. 2, will be without Kevin Garnett for a ninth straight game due to back spasms.