The Phoenix Suns hit a low point on Christmas Day, when they fell one game under .500 with a disappointing 14-point home loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Phoenix finds itself in a much better place heading into Wednesday’s rematch against the Mavericks in Dallas.
The Suns won their sixth straight and improved to 11-3 over their last 14 games with a 115-113 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
Kevin Durant scored a season-high 43 points and Bradley Beal added 18 for Phoenix, which capped a 23-point comeback when Durant made a 17-foot jumper with 1.6 seconds left.
“It is basketball at the end of the day, man,” Durant said. “It is not too serious. I know these games are high stakes, and there is a lot on the line. But at the end of the day, it is still hoop. So, in the moments, I try to be as calm as I can and execute the game plan. It was a fun game, fun game.”
Durant has scored at least 40 points in back-to-back games. The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week shot 12-of-19 from the field in the second half against Chicago.
Phoenix is beginning its longest road trip of the season with seven games over the next 14 days. Durant said the team is heading into the challenging stretch on a high note.
“(The Chicago win) was important for us to finish this off before we go on this long road trip,” Durant said. “This is an important trip for us where we get to bond as a team but also showcase on the road in the tough environments what we’re made of. ”
The trip begins with a matchup against Dallas, which is looking to bounce back from a 119-110 loss to the Boston Celtics on Monday.
Luka Doncic recorded a triple-double with 33 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists, but the Mavericks allowed Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to score a combined 73 points.
Dallas point guard Kyrie Irving scored 23 points while playing through a right thumb sprain suffered early in the game. X-rays were negative and Irving does not expect to miss any time. He is listed as questionable for the Suns.
“It just comes with the territory in this physical, combative game,” Irving said. “It’s going to hurt. I don’t think there’s anybody in the NBA that’s 100 percent night to night. So me, I’m not going to make any excuses. You’ve just got to keep pushing.”
The Mavericks played without guards Dante Exum (right plantar fascia strain) and Seth Curry (left ankle sprain). Both are listed as questionable. Doncic (back tightness) also is questionable.
Doncic is averaging 33.6 points and had 50 in the Mavericks’ win over Phoenix last month.
Dallas coach Jason Kidd is urging his team to maintain focus after the Mavericks expressed frustration with the officiating several times during Monday’s game against Boston. Doncic picked up his eighth technical foul of the season in the loss.
“We’ve been inconsistent in that department where we can get caught up with the officials instead of just staying focused on the game,” Kidd said. “No one’s going to be perfect, from player to official to coach. So you’ve got to continue just doing your job. I thought we got frustrated and they took advantage.”
–Field Level Media
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