Reeling Nets visit surprising Suns
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Brooklyn Nets hope to end their recent woes when they resume a three-game western road trip Friday against the Phoenix Suns.
The Nets shuffled their roster in the offseason by bringing in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to run with Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. So far the experiment has produced a 2-5 record and grumblings in the 11217 area code.
Brooklyn opened the west coast jaunt with Wednesday's 107-86 loss at Sacramento, as Lopez led the way with 16 points and nine rebounds and both Williams and Shaun Livingston added 13 points. Pierce and Johnson finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively, and Garnett had just six.
"There's a process that we have to go through," Nets head coach Jason Kidd said of the team's struggles. "This is something that you're going to go through as a team at some point in the season it just happens that we're going through it a little bit earlier than we expected."
The Nets, who trailed by as many as 23 points, are 0-5 this season in games which they've been outscored in the third quarter and winless on the road (0-4).
Kidd, meanwhile, is a former Sun and squared off with Phoenix first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek 22 times during their playing days. Kidd played in 331 career games with the Suns, including playoff games (1996-2000), and averaged 14.4 points and 9.7 assists.
Brooklyn is in the midst of playing five of six contests on the road and will close out the three-game trek Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Phoenix has been a big surprise this season with a 5-3 record and will try to stay unbeaten at home (4-0) Friday night. The Suns, though, suffered a 90-89 loss at Portland on Wednesday and failed to reach 90 points for the first time in the past five contests.
Eric Bledsoe scored 23 points and Gerald Green added 17 for the Suns, who have held a lead in the fourth quarter of all eight of their games. Phoenix had a number of chances in the closing seconds. Bledsoe drove on Nicolas Batum and missed a layup, but P.J. Tucker kept it alive with a tip shot that bounced off the back of the rim to Markieff Morris. Morris caught the rebound and had one final look, but his layup hung on the rim and fell off as the clock hit zero.
"Eric (Bledsoe) probably got fouled on the layup, and then we had two tip-ins that were point-blank," Hornacek said of the final possession. "A tough one to take. That's the way it goes. You're going to win some of those close games, and lose some."
Bledsoe has scored 20-plus points in back-to-back games and Morris, the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played Nov. 4-10, is averaging 20.5 points per game in his last four. Bledsoe is also just one of four players in the NBA to average at least 20 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
Hornacek is the first Suns head coach to win his first four home games and the team is aiming for the first 5-0 start in the desert since starting 10-0 in 2009-10. The Suns have won five in a row at home dating back to last season.
Suns guard Goran Dragic (lacerated forehead) is probable Friday and rookie center Alex Len (ankle) is listed as questionable. Dragic, who returned to the lineup on Wednesday because of an ankle injury, had 14 points against the Blazers before leaving in the fourth quarter after a collision with Mo Williams.
The Suns and Nets are meeting for the first time since Brooklyn swept the two- game series in 2012-13. Phoenix still has a respectable 9-4 mark in the previous 13 matchups between the teams and is 16-3 in the last 19 meetings in the Valley of the Sun.
11/15 10:09:23 ET