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Game Preview: Suns look to get back on track against Rockets

The Phoenix Suns need a win in the worst way tonight.

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Who: Phoenix Suns (14-15) @ Houston Rockets (15-13)

When: Wednesday, December 27th – 6:00 p.m. AZ Time

Where: Toyota Center, Houston Texas

Watch: Arizona Family Channel 3

Listen: KMVP 98.7 FM


The Phoenix Suns have lost nine of their last 12 games and slipped below the .500 mark on Christmas Day.

There were some bright spots in the Christmas Day loss to Dallas. Chimezie Metu poured in 23 points and 19 rebounds. Grayson Allen exploded for a season-high 32 points along with a 19-point third quarter.

Despite that, the Suns lost to Luka and company in yet another frustrating game.

Next, they face a young and hungry Rockets squad that has exceeded expectations early on this season. Houston lost to Indiana last night at home, 123-117, so this will be the second of a back-to-back for the Rockets.

Jusuf Nurkic is set to return after missing a pair of games due to personal reasons. It couldn’t come at a better time, as they will need him to boost the offense and defend Sengun.

Bradley Beal is out, but he is traveling with the team, which is a good sign.

STARTING FIVE

PHOENIX

  • Jusuf Nurkic
  • Kevin Durant
  • Grayson Allen
  • Eric Gordon
  • Devin Booker

HOUSTON

  • Alperen Sengun
  • Jabari Smith Jr.
  • Dillon Brooks*
  • Jalen Green
  • Fred VanVleet

INJURY REPORT

PHOENIX

  • Josh Okogie, Jusuf Nurkic PROBABLE
  • Bradley Beal (ankle) is OUT
  • Damion Lee (knee) is OUT

HOUSTON

  • *Dillon Brooks (oblique) is QUESTIONABLE
  • Victor Oladipo (knee) is OUT

WHAT TO WATCH

Battle of the Bigs

Alperen Sengun vs. Jusuf Nurkic will be an important matchup in this one. Sengun has been on a tear of late, averaging 29.6 points and 14.0 rebounds per game over his last three contests.

Nurkic is returning after a two-game absence. He has been huge on the glass, averaging 16 boards per game over his last four games. They’ll need every bit of that from the big fella in this one, as his activity down low is instrumental.

New York Knicks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Consistency for 48 minutes?

Can the Suns finally string together a game where they are locked in for more than just a moment or two? Ultimately, their inconsistency from quarter to quarter has been their downfall this season.

Avoiding that lapse that seems to come every game will be the key in taking down an energetic Rockets squad. They are on the second of a back-to-back, so the Suns need to take advantage of tired legs and push the ball, especially in the second half when it starts to set in.

Kevin and Devin — TAKE OVER

Houston isn’t a defensive juggernaut. Especially with Brooks potentially out in this one, the perimeter defense has to be an area that the Suns’ stars expose.

The three-point shooting defense for Houston has also been an issue, as their rotations can get out of whack with proper rim pressure, slip screens, ball movement and reads off short rolls. Durant and Booker manipulating the defense to generate easy looks will lead to a Suns win.

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Prediction

Suns finally get it together in a convincing fashion. 121-109, Phoenix wins.

They need it.

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