The Phoenix Suns will kick off a five-game homestand on Saturday night when they meet the Washington Wizards, who are halfway through their six-game road swing.
The Suns followed an overtime win over NBA-leading Utah on Wednesday with a 113-103 loss Thursday in Los Angeles against the Clippers, snapping a seven-game winning streak.
Phoenix went just 6-of-24 shooting from 3-point range in Los Angeles, while the Clippers connected on 18 of their 37 attempts from long range.
“To play a game like that, to go into overtime like we did (Wednesday), then to come here and play the Clippers, it’s not the best scenario for any team,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “We just didn’t have the legs, and emotionally, it’s draining. But I really feel like our guys have to go through that. When you get to the playoffs, those are the kind of emotions you have to learn to deal with.”
Despite Thursday’s loss, Phoenix returns home still boasting the NBA’s second-best record and appears poised to end an 11-year playoff drought. This stretch of home games will pit the Suns against four opponents with sub-.500 records, including Washington.
The Wizards head into Saturday’s game on the second leg of their own back-to-back, coming off a 110-107 win Friday at Golden State to give them a 2-1 mark on their road trip.
NBA leading scorer Bradley Beal, appearing in his second game back from a five-game layoff due to a hip injury, scored 20 points — well off his average of 30.9 points per game — but cashed in on a four-point opportunity with 6.1 seconds remaining to secure the victory.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks said in his postgame press conference that Beal is questionable for Saturday, as the team will evaluate to “see how he feels.”
Beal dealt with back tightness during Friday’s game, at one point leaving for the locker room.
“I had to come back out, man, and try to help my team win,” he said.
Beal’s backcourt mate, Russell Westbrook, recorded his third consecutive triple-double, seventh in the past eight games, and 21st of the season with 19 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. He climbed to just 14 shy of matching Oscar Robertson’s record 181 triple-doubles.
Washington also got a boost Friday from its frontcourt, with Rui Hachimura scoring 22 points and Robin Lopez coming off the bench for 20 points and eight rebounds.
Veteran guard Chris Paul hit several key shots en route to 29 points in the win over the Jazz, but he finished with just 13 points and three assists against the Clippers. Before Wednesday’s win, when he had nine assists, Paul had a three-game streak of double-doubles for points and assists.
Devin Booker, the Suns’ leading scorer, comes in averaging 26 points per game. He had four consecutive games notching at least 32 points before Thursday’s loss. He has gone a combined 0-of-8 from 3-point range in the past two outings.
This will be the second and final meeting of the season between the two teams. The Wizards won the first game, 128-107, in Washington on Jan. 11 behind 34 points from Beal. Booker led the Suns with 33.
–Field Level Media