Suns-Cavaliers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 27, 2012
The Phoenix Suns just came up short after making a late run. That wasn't the case earlier this month against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Phoenix will try to avoid its worst road start in a decade on Tuesday night when the Cavaliers look to bounce back from an 0-3 trip. The Suns (6-8) briefly took the lead after trailing by 10 late in the third quarter on Sunday, but they fell 104-101 to Philadelphia to begin their season-high six-game trip. Phoenix is yielding a league-worst 103.3 points per game, and its opponents are 22 for 45 from 3-point range over the last two contests. "I thought we did a great job down the stretch, but if you go back in the game, you'll see we had plays where we just didn't execute defensively," coach Alvin Gentry told the Suns' official website. "The effort is great and we continue to compete, but we have to be able to make the plays that win games for you." Phoenix hasn't done much of that outside the desert this season, dropping five of six to equal its worst road start since opening 1-7 in 2002-03. The Suns, though, have a chance to sweep this season series after overcoming a 26-point third-quarter deficit in a 107-105 victory on Nov. 9. Shannon Brown, a former Cavs first-round pick, led that surge with 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter "Definitely (Cleveland will have that game in mind). Any time you lose to a team you want to get revenge," Suns swingman Jared Dudley said. "... We know Kyrie Irving is gone (with a broken left index finger). We've got to put pressure on their guards. Any time we can get (rookie Dion) Waiters to slow down and keep (Anderson) Varejao off the boards, we have a good chance." Waiters and Varejao paced the Cavs (3-11) with 15 points on Monday, and Varejao added 22 rebounds to lift his league-leading average to 14.7, but that wasn't enough in an 84-78 loss to league-best Memphis. Cleveland was outscored 22-9 in the final 12 minutes after leading by at least eight points in the first two games of its trip. "Sooner or later being in this situation this many times, we will find a way to break through it," coach Byron Scott said. The Cavaliers, who have played a league-low four home games, will go for their first set of back-to-back wins at Quicken Loans Arena since Feb. 19 and 21. If Cleveland can match that, it will send the Suns to their first four-game road skid since Feb. 13-March 7. Phoenix won its second straight in Cleveland on March 25, 108-83. Markieff Morris, who scored a then-career-high 22 points for the Suns in that contest, is expected to make his fourth consecutive start in place of Dudley. Morris is averaging team highs of 16.7 points and 6.7 rebounds since Gentry made that switch. Morris, though, missed all nine of his shots and finished with four points and seven boards on Nov. 9. Point guard Goran Dragic led the Suns with a season-best 26 points in that matchup, but like Dudley, he's expecting a more complete effort from the Cavaliers this time. "They're a really competitive team," Dragic said. "They have a lot of young guys. They're playing at home right now, so we're gonna have to be focused from the beginning of the game and try to finish that game strong."
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