Suns resume playoff push in SacramentoMar 29, 2011 - 2:53 PM (Sports Network) - The NBA playoffs and the Phoenix Suns have coincided since the mid 1970s. The team from the desert, however, is in danger of losing that distinction and must get its act together tonight against the familiar Sacramento Kings at ARCO Arena.
The Suns have missed the postseason only three times since ending a three-year drought back in the 1988-89 campaign. From Paul Westphal, the current head coach of the Kings, to Steve Nash, the Suns have been a consistent contender for an NBA title but have no championships to show for it.
Phoenix is four games behind Memphis for the eighth and final postseason spot in the Western Conference with 10 games to play, and has lost two straight and seven of its last 10 games, including Sunday's 91-83 defeat versus the Dallas Mavericks in the finale of a three-game homestand. Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat both had 20 points and Josh Childress added 12 in defeat. Gortat grabbed 15 boards and Nash compiled six points with 10 assists.
"We played with great effort, I thought -- did a good job and had a great start," said Phoenix head coach Alvin Gentry. "We just weren't quite able to maintain and then we couldn't come up with shots at the end of the game."
Gortat has a career-high 18 double-doubles this season. His 17 double-doubles off the bench are a franchise record. Gortat has also scored in double figures in a career-best 18 games in a row and Nash leads all players with 47 double- digit assist efforts this season.
The Suns are 16-19 away from home. In injury news, forward Mickael Pietrus is questionable against the Kings with a knee/quadriceps ailment.
Sacramento is riding a season-high three-game winning streak and hasn't won four in a row since Nov. 25 - Dec. 2 of last season. It gained a measure revenge in Philadelphia on Sunday, posting a 114-111 overtime victory against the Sixers, who crushed the Kings by a 102-80 score on March 18.
Marcus Thornton led all scorers with 32 points in the recent win while Jason Thompson added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings, who went 4-1 on a five-game road trip.
"I thought our defense, the whole game, kept us in the game," Westphal said. "We were really sputtering offensively. We found a way to score but mostly we just stayed in the game because of our defense and rebounding."
Former Sixer Samuel Dalembert had a season-high 19 rebounds to go with 13 points and Tyreke Evans played in his second game since a 19-game absence because of a bout with plantar fascitis in his left foot. Sacramento went 5-14 over that stretch without the reigning Rookie of the Year, who had 10 points against his hometown team.
2010-11 Rookie of the Year candidate DeMarcus Cousins posted 12 points and has scored in double figures in 13 of the past 14 contests. Dalembert is averaging 15.6 points and 12.4 rebounds in his previous nine games with six double- doubles over the past eight. Thornton has scored 20 or more points in seven of his previous nine outings, recording 24.3 ppg in that stretch.
The Kings are only 9-27 in California's capital this season and lead the season series with the Pacific Division-rival Suns, 2-1, after Phoenix won all four meetings a year ago. The Suns are 12-3 in the past 15 matchups with Sacramento.
- PHOENIX: 113
Mar 30 12:22 AM
- PHOENIX: 93
End of 3rd
Mar 29 11:45 PM
- PHOENIX: 61
Mar 29 11:17 PM
- PHOENIX: 61
Mar 29 11:17 PM
- PHOENIX: 34
End of 1st
Mar 29 10:35 PM
- PHOENIX: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Mar 29 10:12 PM
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