Suns-Cavaliers Preview

BY foxsports • January 25, 2014

A frustrating performance in their last contest put a quick end to the Phoenix Suns' two-game winning streak.

The Suns will look to bounce back on Sunday when they open a four-games-in-five-nights road trip against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Phoenix struggled to hang on to the basketball in Friday's 101-95 loss to Washington. The Suns turned it over 21 times, resulting in 24 Wizards points, and surrendered 19 offensive rebounds, one of their highest totals of the season.

Phoenix turned it over a combined 20 times and allowed a total of 20 offensive boards in wins over Denver and Indiana earlier in the week.

"There was a bunch of things," coach Jeff Hornacek said. "... It's been probably six or seven games since we have a big turnover night. Then the offensive rebounds. ... So all that stuff adds up."

The Suns (24-18) have had issues on the road of late, dropping four of their last five away from Phoenix after a stretch of seven wins in 10 games away from home.

The Suns will open their trip against a Cavaliers team coming off one of its most lopsided wins of the season, a 93-78 victory over Milwaukee on Friday. Anderson Varejao led a balanced effort with 16 points as Cleveland outrebounded the Bucks 52-34.

The Cavaliers (16-27) are only shooting 40.1 percent and averaging 92.3 points three games into this five-game homestand, but coach Mike Brown was pleased with his team allowing its fewest points of the season after two ugly defeats.

"It was a good performance, especially after the two losses," Brown said. "Our guys stepped up. We had a lot of good individual performances that turned into a good team performance."

Varejao has stepped up in January after averaging just 8.0 points and 8.9 rebounds while shooting 48.6 percent in Cleveland's first 31 games. He's averaged 11.3 points and 14.1 boards this month while shooting 53.2 percent, and he's even averaged 5.0 assists over his last seven games.

Both the Suns and Cavaliers rely heavily on their reserves - each bench averages 37.0 points to rank among the league leaders - and Cleveland felt its 40-point effort from its backups was key against Milwaukee.

Tyler Zeller had eight points, nine rebounds and three blocks in 21 minutes as the Cavs improved to 4-2 when he scores that many.

"We need our bench to win games; everyone has to play well," said forward Tristan Thompson. "... We have to start collectively like we did tonight. (Zeller) was huge for us off the bench, with his defensive presence around the rim."

Phoenix's bench provided 31 points in the loss to the Wizards. The Suns are 12-2 when their reserves score 44 points or more.

The Suns have won their last three visits to Cleveland and five of six in the series overall. Goran Dragic averaged 22.5 points as Phoenix won both meetings last season, though its 91-78 win at Quicken Loans Arena came with All-Star counterpart Kyrie Irving on the sidelines.

Varejao had 34 points and 28 boards in the two losses.

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