Preview: Phoenix Suns (18-21) at Cleveland Cavaliers (8-32)

Phoenix Suns 106, Cleveland Cavaliers 98



The last time the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers met, Steve Nash and company were soul searching, desperately in need of any type of win.

They snuck past the lowly Cavs to snap a three-game losing streak, but there wasn’t much optimism for a Phoenix team that lost seven of its last eight games before the victory and just allowed Corperryale “Manny” L’Adorable Harris to rip off 27 against them.

Nash was about as candid as ever after the loss, saying: “Frustration has been mounting for about three months. It’s hard. This is very difficult, just trying to fight through it and stay positive. Every day is a challenge. Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back and gain a perspective, but when you get back out there, the fire burns and the frustration is there.”

But after downing the Nets, Trail Blazers and Knicks in succession, the frustration is fading and the sun is shining brighter in Phoenix. The Suns are coming off their second-best offensive performance against the Knicks and have reason for optimism moving forward.

Vince Carter had his best performance as a Sun, scoring 29 points and grabbing 12 rebounds for his first double-double since Feb. 2, 2010. Grant Hill wasn’t far behind with 25 points, and Nash did his thing with 15 and 11.

Channing Frye rattled off 18 points and Robin Lopez scored 12 as every Suns starter finished the game in double digits. Phoenix’s bench added 30 points in 18 rebounds and the Suns put together one of their most offensively complete games of the season.

Cleveland, on the other hand, is falling in the opposite direction. The Cavs haven’t won a game since Dec. 18 — a stretch of 13 straight losses spanning longer than a month — and they haven’t even been close.

Three games ago they lost a laugher against the Laker in which they scored 57 points, and followed that embarrassment up with a 22-point loss to Utah and a 28-point loss to Denver. Dating even further back, the Cavs are a ridiculous 1-23 in their last 24 games.

This team is decimated by injuries and there isn’t much to look forward to on a nightly basis. They truly are the joke of the NBA. Ten days ago the Suns struggled to defeat the NBA’s bottom-feeder, but now they’re surging with a handful of winnable games ahead of them.

After the Cavs the Suns have the Wizards, Pistons, Sixers and Bobcats. If Phoenix can continue its offensive resurgence and take care of business against the teams that it’s supposed to, the Suns should be able to chip away at Portland’s 2.5 game lead for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

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