Hawks, Suns shoot to get back on track

NBA Basketball

Two teams struggling to live up to the early promise they showed this season will meet Wednesday night when Phoenix hosts Atlanta.

The Suns started the season with five victories in six games but are just 2-3 since Jan. 3. The Hawks opened with four victories in five games, then went on a four-game losing streak that ended Monday with a 112-94 home victory over Philadelphia.

While the Suns will open a three-game home stretch, the Hawks will begin a three-game trip in the West, which ends with stops at Utah and Portland.

The Suns concluded a 1-2 East Coast road swing Monday with a 128-107 loss to Washington. The Wizards were on a three-game losing streak and hadn’t won at home when they entered the game. The Wizards also were playing without star guard Russell Westbrook (quad) and center Thomas Bryant, who was lost for the season last week because of a partially torn ACL.

Suns guard Devin Booker scored 33 points, but the team shot just 14.8 percent (4 of 27) from 3-point range. Phoenix also played without backup point guard Cameron Payne (ankle) for a second consecutive game, with Chris Paul recording 14 points and 11 assists in a team-high 36 minutes.

“This is just one of those stinkers that you want to flush and hurry up and get back on the floor, but we as a group, collectively, have to understand what works for us,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.

The suggestion is that the Suns will dictate the pace Wednesday instead of letting their opponent do so, which is what happened at Washington.

The Hawks asserted themselves Monday against the 76ers, with Trae Young scoring 26 points. De’Andre Hunter and Brandon Goodwin added 15 each.

It was a bounce-back game for Young, who scored seven and 15 points in back-to-back games against the Charlotte Hornets. He was a combined 7 of 28 (25 percent) from the field in those games and 0 of 8 from 3-point range. He was 3 of 7 from behind the arc Monday against Philadelphia.

“It felt good to actually get some shots going in,” Young said. “(I) had a really good warm-up and just kind of carried it over to the game, and it felt good.”

Helping the Hawks was a 21-2 advantage in fast-break points against Philadelphia.

“We tried to get as many easy baskets as we could from running, but I enjoyed the way our guys played,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “It was good to see our guys play that way, and how do we sustain it is the next question, but that’s what we’ll focus on.”

The victory also was much needed after the Hawks learned guard Bogdan Bogdanovic would miss significant time because of a fractured right knee. The injury occurred in Saturday’s loss against the Hornets.

Hawks guard Tony Snell played in his first game Monday after being out with a foot injury. He was 0 of 3 from the field in seven minutes and did not score.

–Field Level Media

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