PHOENIX SUNS (9-8) AT MAVERICKS (8-11)
Time: 8 p.m., Saturday
Place: American Airlines Center, Dallas
Radio: ESPN 103.3 FM; Univision 1270 AM (Spanish)
About the Mavericks: In addition to hosting the Suns tonight, the Mavs will play them again on Monday night. . .In part because they’ve had five players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the Mavs are on a four-game losing streak. It’s their longest losing streak since they dropped seven straight games from March 2-14, 2019. . .This is the second leg of a back-to-back for the Mavs, who are 1-2 on the last leg of a back-to-back. . .On Friday, the Mavs lost to the Jazz in Utah, 120-101. They also lost to the Jazz in Utah on Wednesday, 116-104. . .Luka Doncic produced 25 points, six rebounds and seven assists on Friday. . .Forward Maxi Kleber has missed the past 10 games due to the health and safety protocols, but could return tonight. Counting Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Richardson, Dwight Powell, Jalen Brunson and Kleber, the Mavs have had five on the league’s health and safety protocols this season. That prompted forward James Johnson to say: “With all that craziness and wickedness going on — and players leaving and players coming back and things like this — it’s harder to get the chemistry rolling. We don’t get to go to each other’s (hotel) room, we don’t get to go hang out, (no) team dinners and things like that. And it gets difficult.”. .The Mavs opened the season on Dec. 23 with a 106-102 loss to the Suns in Phoenix, despite 32 points, eight rebounds and five assists from Doncic.
About the Suns: Because they manufactured a perfect 8-0 in the bubble in Orlando last summer and added Chris Paul and Jae Crowder over the offseason, the Suns were picked by many of the so-called experts to be one of the darlings of the NBA this season. But after starting the season with a 5-1 record, the Suns have lost five of their last seven games. . .Phoenix snapped a three-game losing streak on Thursday when it outscored the Golden State Warriors, 62-46, in the second half en route to a 114-93 victory on its home court. Mikal Bridges led the Suns with 20 points, and Abdel Nadar and Crowder pitched in with 16 apiece. . .Prior to defeating the Warriors, the Suns dropped three home consecutive games that could have gone either way. On Jan. 22, the Suns dropped a 130-126 decision to the Denver Nuggets in overtime in a game where Devin Booker produced 31 points, Deandre Ayton contributed 27 points and 13 rebounds, and Bridges added 24 points and 10 boards. Last Saturday, the Suns lost to the Nuggets again, this time in double overtime, 120-112. In that game, Paul collected 21 points and 13 assists, Crowder tallied 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Ayton finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. And this Wednesday, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Suns, 102-97, despite 32 points from Paul. . .Booker has missed the last three games with a strained left hamstring and is listed as out for this game.
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