NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, February 6th (All times eastern)
Phoenix Suns (9-14) at Atlanta Hawks (16-8), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Known to be a formidable foe on their own court, the Atlanta Hawks have stumbled a bit during a four-game homestand and look to restore order at Philips Arena tonight versus the Phoenix Suns.
The Hawks have lost the first two installments of the current homestand and recently suffered a 98-87 loss to Philadelphia Saturday night. Jeff Teague recorded a team-best 21 points and Ivan Johnson notched his first career double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds for Atlanta, which lost to Memphis in the opener of the residency and had won 12 of 15 games before the current two-game slide.
"We've just got to lock up and play defense," Johnson said of Atlanta's interior defense. "That's all it is, playing defense."
Usual Atlanta scorers Joe Johnson and Josh Smith were held to 16 and nine points, respectively, in a losing cause. Smith pulled down 10 rebounds as the Hawks fell to 8-3 as the host and sit two games behind Miami for the Southeast Division lead. Indiana will visit Philips Arena on Wednesday.
Atlanta hopes Johnson can crack the 20-point mark tonight since it's an impressive 11-1 when he hits that mark. The Hawks announced this weekend that forward Jason Collins is expected to miss two weeks with an elbow sprain and are already playing without forward Al Horford, who's out for at least a few months because of a pectoral tear. Atlanta hopes Zaza Pachulia can pick up his inside game while his teammates heal.
Phoenix has alternated wins and losses over its last six games, and will play two straight and five of the next six games on the road. It is 4-8 away from the Valley of the Sun this season.
The Suns recently handed the Charlotte Bobcats a 95-89 defeat on Saturday at home, receiving 17 points from Michael Redd in his first start of the season. Marcin Gortat ended with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Robin Lopez contributed 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter for the Suns.
"I think we need to stay focused, we need to stay somewhat loose I think," Lopez said after helping Phoenix hand Charlotte its 11th straight loss. "I think tonight seemed like some of the guys were having fun and obviously we had some nice dunks. I think before the game the atmosphere was a little loose, we had fun out there."
Steve Nash chipped in 11 points and handed out 10 assists. Phoenix was without starting guard Jared Dudley (thigh), snapping his career-best consecutive games played streak at 206. It was the fourth-longest active streak in the NBA. Dudley is questionable for Monday's game.
Meanwhile, Gortat has double-doubles in 14 of his last 15 games and has pulled down 10-plus rebounds in 15 straight games -- four shy of Charles Barkley's 19-game run back in 1995-96.
The Suns will also visit Milwaukee before returning home to host Houston, and will hit the road again for a three-game trek against Sacramento, Golden State and Denver.
Phoenix swept a home-and-home series with the Hawks a season ago and has won 14 of the past 18 meetings between the teams. The Suns are 9-3 in their previous 12 visits to Atlanta.
02/06 10:57:46 ET