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Reply To: NBA • Thursday Service Plays • 2/25/16

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Preview: Brooklyn At Phoenix

When: 9:00 PM ET, Thursday, February 25, 2016
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona

The Phoenix Suns have dropped 12 straight and 18 of 19 but could be looking at their best chance to snap that string. The Brooklyn Nets, who visit the Suns on Thursday, have dropped seven in a row on the road and began their nine-game road trip with a 112-104 setback in Portland on Tuesday.

Phoenix may have hit rock bottom on Monday, when it was wiped off the floor in a 124-84 loss at the Los Angeles Clippers. “This is a competitive league,” Suns interim coach Earl Watson said on Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf radio show. “The process we are going through right now is we are finding out the mental toughness of our team. More than anything, we do not make excuses. We come out and we compete and whatever the result is we are accountable for that result.” The Nets nearly pulled off a signature win on Tuesday after coming back from a 19-point deficit to tie, but in the end they suffered a 112-104 loss to the Trail Blazers. Brooklyn, which will travel nearly 8,000 miles on the longest road trip in team history, is 4-20 away from home.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, YES (Brooklyn), FSN Arizona (Phoenix)

ABOUT THE NETS (15-42): Brooklyn would be battling Phoenix for the number of ping pong balls available in the draft lottery, but the Nets traded their first-round pick this season to the Boston Celtics as part of the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade prior to the 2013-14 season. The Nets at least still have center Brook Lopez, who put up a season-high 36 points and 10 rebounds at Portland. Lopez has gone over 30 points twice in three games since the break and is averaging 23.6 points on 57.8 percent shooting in nine games this month.

ABOUT THE SUNS (14-43): Lopez will do battle with Phoenix center Alex Len, who was one of few players drawing praise from his coach. “I think it was great (for Len) to have starters minutes against the best big-man defender in the league,” Watson told the radio show after Len went up against Los Angeles’ DeAndre Jordan. “There was one play where he had the ball in the paint, made a move, made a pivot and had an and-one dunk. To me, that was more impactful than anything he did the entire game. He always gives you his heart, he’s always in tune with the game and he cares – that means more than anything to us as a program.” Len saw an increase in minutes in the last three games with center Tyson Chandler (shoulder) ailing.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Suns rookie G Devin Booker is 8-of-30 from the field in three games since the All-Star break.

2. Brooklyn SF Joe Johnson is averaging 18 points on 11-of-19 shooting in the last two contests.

3. Lopez scored 23 points in a 94-91 home win over Phoenix on Dec. 1.

PREDICTION: Suns 103, Nets 101