Preview: Brooklyn Nets (40-29) at Phoenix Suns (23-47)

Time: 6 p.m. MST





PHOENIX — No matter how far the Phoenix Suns fall down the Western Conference ladder, interim coach Lindsey Hunter doesn’t want to panic. He took an easy day on Saturday, according to The Arizona Republic, and all along is hoping to stay the course.

With the Brooklyn Nets coming into U.S. Airways Center on Sunday on the second game of a back-to-back, Phoenix has a shot to turn things around, although against an opponent with a bit more on the line. The Nets sit fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings and coming off a tight, 101-95, loss to the Los Angeles Clippers will be licking their lips at the sight of the limping Suns.

“Brooklyn ain’t going to come in here and say, ‘Aw they ain’t got no bigs, ah, we going to lay down, we going to take it easy on ‘em,’” Suns forward P.J. Tucker said. “They’re going to try to knock our heads off.”

Johnson out
Former Sun Joe Johnson is out for the Nets with a right quad contusion and Keith Bogans will start in his place.

<pThe Suns have suffered partly because of injury and illness. Jermaine O'Neal and Jared Dudley could be gametime decisions depending on how much their stomach illness has faded. Since O'Neal is also rehabbing a minor calf injury, the Suns will likely be at a size disadvantage once again.

That hurts against Brooklyn, which has been inconsistent on the rebounding front. At times — see the two games prior to the loss to Los Angeles — the Nets can dominate the boards. But against the Clippers Saturday, Reggie Evans' 16 rebounds were hardly aided, as no other Brooklyn player brought down more than three rebounds.

Fatigue could be an issue for the Nets.

The game against Phoenix is the fourth of an eight-game road swing, and stars Deron Williams and Joe Johnson appeared fatigue Saturday night. Williams went 6-of-16 for 18 points in 38 minutes, and Johnson went 6-of-18 for 15 points. He is also dealing with a heel soreness and is averaging 13.3 points on 43 percent shooting over the course of the last 10 games played.

So Phoenix could perhaps use a day’s rest to freshen their legs. It’ll also give them a chance to press the reset button by slowing down, looking themselves in the mirror and coming out with pride on the line.

“Go out there to represent yourself, organization, team, what we’ve been fighting all year for,” Tucker said.

“We’re playing pretty much without any of our bigs, which is tough, but like I said, we got to find deep down inside, go out there and fight. If all of us got to foul out of a game, we got to go out there and fight every single night.”

As for Hunter, fighting through the struggles is the only thing he knows.

“We stay the course, don’t make excuses,” Hunter said. “We take it, we learn from it and we move forward.”

“I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum,” he added. “I understand what they’re going through and I understand how to come out of it. I realize that you have to stay the course.”

  • Scott

    “No matter how far the Phoenix Suns fall down the Western Conference ladder, interim coach Lindsey Hunter doesn’t want to panic.”

    The Suns are well past the point of panic, aren’t they?

    If the Suns were an economy, they’re past the stock market crash and already in the bread lines.

  • Scott

    BTW, draft watchers … Draft Express has Shabazz dropped down to #7 now.

    It seems like every year people say “this is a weak draft,” but it seems like it really applies this year. To me the draft is thin at the top, but pretty good through the rest of the first round if you’re not looking for immediate production.

    I read a scouting report the other day that compared Oladipo to Tony Allen (PER 13, drafted #25). Heh.

    So … I’m still generally in favor of the Suns trying to turn their high pick into 2 lower first round picks, as it won’t hurt the competitiveness of the Suns to pick up players who can’t play immediately but have potential.

  • pece

    Today I saw Oladipo and Zeller — JAI! Oladipo made last shot for win, but besides that … I envy you, fortune tellers, I can’t predict so much. Defensively, for instance, he couldnt stop Wyatt. Well, we will sea I guess.

  • foreveris2long

    I think it is a really weak draft. I would not trade a top 5 lottery pick for 2 late 1st round picks but I might make a deal to go from 5 to 10 and get another pick in the teens. I did see Franklin for San Diego State tonight and he is a very good athletic player with a jump shot who can defend. Oladipo is good but certainly not great. There are no sure fixes in this draft. I just want to get an athletic Wing who can score and Payne.

  • Scott

    @forever -

    You just want to say things like, “Bring the Payne” and “House of Payne.” ;)

    BTW, I just noticed that Robin Lopez has a PER of 19.2. If he was still with the Suns, he’d be the PER leader.

  • Scott

    As a side note, Mo Harkless, the guy I wished the Suns could have drafted last year (and yes, he was available), he just scored 25 pts, had 9 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 blocks against OKC.

    If the Suns had taken my 2011 and 2012 picks of Kawhi Leonard and Mo Harkless, they’d be in a far better spot as far as rebuilding goes. Nik Vucevic is playing great too.

    I totally understand why Blanks picked Morris and Marshall. In fact, I accurately guessed those picks. But they weren’t the most talented guys available at those draft spots. (Though hopefully Marshall develops into a skilled and crafty scorer.)

    I’m awaiting scouting updates on a large number of draft prospects, so my research is not complete, but guys I’ve got my eye on are still Isaiah Austin, Archie Goodwin, and Gorgui Dieng.

    I’m looking for motor, athleticism (including lateral quickness), IQ, length, defense, offense, and character.

  • bill.thomas

    As regards the draft, Jeff Withey is way better than Zeller and will go lower. Go with Withey. Great skills, just not a dominating type. I don’t see Cody Zeller as any better than his Bro Tyler who we should have taken ahead of Marshall.

    And Cody Zeller is undersized to a T. Can we put some of Markieff’s food budget toward him. No I don’t mean if we draft him, but right now at IU. Markieff doesn’t need it all, its keeping him on the floor.

    For that Faux Pas with Marshall, Blanks should get a Boston Hot Dog with lots of mustard and relish in addition to half of his next pay check, next time the check is due.

  • bill.thomas

    @Scott: You presume to apply reason and foresight here?? Perhaps you are on another planet.

  • bill.thomas

    I would sign Lindsey Lohan and eat one guaranteed contract.

    Just to send a message.

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