The Charlotte Hornets entered their longest road trip of the season on a sour note and were unable to turn the tide in the opener of the six-game trek against Western Conference teams. They will try to bounce back against the worst team in the West when they visit the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
Three days after an embarrassing 122-84 home loss to Dallas on Wednesday, Charlotte began the trip with a 123-110 setback at West-leading Denver to fall to 4-12 on the road. It will try to improve upon that mark against a Suns team that showed signs of progress with a recent 5-2 surge but has since lost five in a row to begin a season-high seven-game homestand. Opponents are averaging 125 points during the string, and the Los Angeles Clippers had a 55-36 advantage on the glass in Friday's 121-111 win at Phoenix. "After a day of practice, of going over it, we just didn't come out mentally ready," Suns guard Devin Booker told reporters. "Same old problem that we're still looking for the solution for."
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Southeast (Charlotte), FS Arizona (Phoenix)
ABOUT THE HORNETS (18-20): A bright spot in Saturday's loss was the 16-point, 12-rebound effort by center Bismack Biyombo, who was making his first start. "I think he gave us great energy, a presence down inside," coach James Borrego told reporters of the veteran big man. "We need that from him every single night." Biyombo has recorded 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting over his last two games after producing a total of 20 over his first 11 contests this season.
ABOUT THE SUNS (9-31): Booker scored 23 points and T.J. Warren added 20 in the loss to the Clippers, but rookie center Deandre Ayton was held to a season low-tying four while attempting just three shots - more than nine below his average. "You know (coach) Larry Brown used to say, 'You need the touches, you go get it,'" coach Igor Kokoskov told reporters of Ayton's quiet outing. "(Three) touches? It's on all of us." Phoenix finishes its homestand against Sacramento on Tuesday before playing 15 of its next 21 on the road, where it owns a 4-15 record.
1. Hornets G Kemba Walker is averaging 16.5 points - nearly nine below his season mark - on 32.3 percent shooting over his last two games.
2. Booker has scored at least 20 points in each of his 11 contests since returning from a hamstring strain.
3. Charlotte has won three straight meetings.
PREDICTION: Hornets 117, Suns 115 Bet Now
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