Suns-Hornets Preview

BY foxsports • February 29, 2016

After three weeks of travel, the Charlotte Hornets want to use a home-heavy stretch to recharge their playoff push.

That starts Tuesday night for the Hornets against a Phoenix team that's lost 15 in a row on the road, but one they're trying to gain a season split against.

The Hornets finished 4-2 on a six-game road swing in which they had a season-high five-game winning streak at one point, but they dropped two of the last three.

Charlotte shot a season-worst 33.3 percent in an 87-76 loss to Atlanta on Sunday. Kemba Walker was held to nine points on 3-of-15 shooting after averaging an Eastern Conference-best 24.1 points in his first eight games in February.

"It was a good trip for us, especially to start with five games after the (All-Star break), but this is a game we felt we could have had," forward Marvin Williams said. "It's disappointing but we did some good things on this road trip."

Locked in a competitive postseason race, the Hornets (30-28) play eight of their next nine at home and are still in strong contention for the Southeast Division lead.

Charlotte, 2 1/2 games behind Miami and two back of Atlanta, first face a team mired in its second-longest road slide in franchise history. The Suns (15-44) have lost those 15 games by an average of 20.1 points, the worst in that span a 124-84 drubbing by the Los Angeles Clippers in their most recent road contest Feb. 22.

The Suns, who lost 18 straight on the road in 1973-74, snapped a 13-game overall skid with a 111-106 victory over Memphis on Saturday. Alex Len shined again with 22 points - one shy of matching a career high - and 16 rebounds.

Len is averaging 18.0 points and 10.8 rebounds in his last four games. He was producing 6.9 points and 6.2 boards per contest in his first 51 this season.

"It's just one win," said interim coach Earl Watson, who earned his first NBA victory in 10 games. "It's not a celebration, it's not a championship, it's not a major leap in the right direction. It's one step forward."

The Suns haven't won back-to-back games since Dec. 7-9 and have lost 28 of 31. One of those three victories, however, came against Charlotte on Jan. 6.

Phoenix connected on a season-high 19 3-pointers in a 111-102 win, and Mirza Teletovic made five en route to finishing with 19 points. Teletovic, averaging 10.9 points, has combined for 48 in his past two games and scored a season-high 30 in a 116-106 loss to Brooklyn on Thursday.

The Suns have won three straight in Charlotte and seven of the last eight between the teams. Their top five scorers from last season's 111-106 win there, however, are either no longer with the team or injured.

Walker has a combined 52 points and 13 assists in his last two games against the Suns. He had 25 points and six assists in the loss in January.

Al Jefferson, who missed that game while recovering from knee surgery, had 28 points on 13-of-22 shooting in his most recent game versus Phoenix.

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