National Basketball Association
Bobcats-Suns Preview
National Basketball Association

Bobcats-Suns Preview

Published Feb. 1, 2014 2:48 a.m. ET

Coming off an impressive road sweep, the Phoenix Suns look to match their longest winning streak of the season as they begin a home-heavy stretch.

While Kemba Walker is unlikely to play, the Suns may have to figure out a way to cool off Al Jefferson to reach that goal Saturday night against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Phoenix (28-18) may be one of the league's highest scoring teams with 104.9 points per game, but it showed the ability to win in variety of ways while taking all four games on its eastern road trip.

The Suns won a defensive battle, 99-90, in Cleveland to open the swing before outscoring Philadelphia 124-113 and Milwaukee 126-117. They then wrapped up the trip by beating NBA-best Indiana at its own game in a 102-94 victory Thursday.


Phoenix limited the Pacers to 43.7 percent shooting - including 1 of 15 from 3-point range - while becoming only the second team in 23 games to win in Indianapolis.

Goran Dragic had 21 of the Suns' 66 points in the first half - the most given up by the Pacers in a half all season.

"We are at our best when we start the game well," said Dragic, who ended up with 28 points and seven assists. "We played an up-tempo game, so I think they were a little bit tired."

Dragic has scored 22.5 per game and hit 45.5 from 3-point range in his last 17 - a stretch that began when high-scoring guard Eric Bledsoe went down with knee injury in a 107-88 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 30.

Now he'll try to lead the Suns to their fifth straight win overall - and fifth in a row over the Bobcats (21-27) - as they open a stretch with 12 of the next 15 on their own floor.

Dragic finished with 21 points and 11 assists in a 121-104 win over Charlotte in the last meeting in Phoenix on Dec. 19, 2012.

Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist combined for 52 points on 18-of-28 shooting in that contest. Walker, however, isn't expected to play because of an ankle injury while Kidd-Gilchrist has struggled since missing six weeks with a broken hand.

Jefferson has stepped up with an historic tear, setting a franchise record by scoring 20 or more in 11 consecutive games to surpass the previous mark set by Jason Richardson in 2007-08. He's averaged 28.1 points and 12.5 boards over that stretch.

The veteran center finished with a career high-tying 40 points and 18 rebounds in a 110-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday as Charlotte moved to 2-0 on this four-game trip.

''I have those moments,'' Jefferson said. ''They kept running plays for me and I kept scoring. In the first quarter, they weren't going down for me, but I just kept staying with it because I knew sooner or later it would start going down for me. ''

Jefferson was still working his way back from a preseason ankle injury when he scored nine in 24 minutes of a 98-91 home loss to Phoenix on Nov. 22.

The Bobcats rank in the league's top 10 with a 44.2 defensive field-goal percentage, and they've limited opponents to 38.9 percent shooting in their back-to-back road wins.

They've won four of five against West teams, but have dropped seven of nine in Phoenix.


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