Struggling Suns visit resurgent Hornets

NBA Basketball

The Phoenix Suns pull into Charlotte, N.C., in a bit of a rut heading into their Sunday night game with the Hornets.

The Suns have lost three of their past four games, which is their roughest stretch since the first week of the season. They opened a three-game road trip Friday with a 123-108 loss in Boston.

The Charlotte Hornets, meantime, have righted themselves from their own a recent rough patch and have won three in a row.

“I love the mentality,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “We found a way. You do that with your effort, staying together, staying the course, not giving in.”

Much of the recent good vibes for the Hornets have come with the production from guard Terry Rozier. He has been Charlotte’s top scorer in the past two games, including a season-high 35 points Wednesday night in a 116-108 win at Indiana.

Rozier has made at least four 3-point shots in each of the last four games. That includes a combined 12-for-21 the past two games, when the Hornets missed forwards Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington in the league’s health and safety protocol.

“I’m feeling really confident,” Rozier said. “As you can see, I’m not hesitating at all from the beginning all the way until the end. I can score the ball. I’ve always been like that all my life, so it’s a matter of me looking at myself in the mirror and not worrying about how things play out.”

Before the past four games, Rozier scored just four points in a 137-106 loss at Phoenix. He was 0-for-5 on 3s in that game.

The Suns have had their own COVID issues, and have been without Deandre Ayton, JaVale McGee and Jae Crowder because of COVID protocol. Abdel Nader has a knee injury. Coach Monty Williams is also in the protocol.

Despite such bumps, the Suns have the league’s second-best record (27-8), and guard Devin Booker pointed out, “We still have a lot of our players out there. We have to do a better job of leading and holding each other accountable.”

He attributed the Suns’ struggles to “Not defending and stagnant offense. We just have to be better. … That’s two or three games in a row that we’ve been playing catch-up.”

Booker has led the Suns in scoring the past three games, averaging 30 points during that span. Jalen Smith posted a career-high 19 points in the Boston game.

“We’ll be better in Charlotte,” Booker said.

–Field Level Media

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