The Cleveland Cavaliers return home after a three-game road trip Tuesday night to face the Phoenix Suns at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavs dropped all three on this past trip, but hung tough in each one. Without Kyrie Irving, Cleveland fell to the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies by a total of 12 points.
"I feel that we are doing a lot of good things right now," Cleveland coach Byron Scott said after Monday's 84-78 loss to the Grizz. "We are getting better on both ends of the floor as we have been talking about for the past week or so. Our guys are focused and committed to what we are trying to do. We just still have those lapses that most veteran teams don't have. That is what is killing us right now."
Against a strong Memphis team, especially in their building, the Cavaliers held a five-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but only managed nine points in the final frame.
Anderson Varejao led the way with 15 points and 22 boards as he continues to lead the NBA in rebounding at 14.7 per game. Memphis is one of the best teams in the league at keeping the opposition off the glass, but Cleveland won the rebounding battle by eight.
Tuesday marks only the fifth home game for the Cavs. They are 2-2 in Cleveland and won their last game at Quicken Loans Arena, a 92-83 decision over the Philadelphia 76ers on Nov. 18.
Phoenix just embarked on a six-game road trip on Sunday with their first stop in Philadelphia. A Michael Beasley layup with under five seconds left on the clock rimmed out of the hoop and the Sixers walked away with a 104-101 victory.
"Yeah, a lay-up. We just have to get it in the basket," said Suns coach Alvin Gentry. "I don't know how it came out really, but it's exactly what we were trying to do."
The Suns have trailed by double-digits in 12 of their 14 games this season and Gentry tweaked the starting lineup recently. In were Markieff Morris and Shannon Brown and out went Luis Scola and Shannon Brown. Since that change, the Suns have gone 2-1.
Phoenix has been a dismal 1-5 on the road this season and if bad defense is what you like, this may be the game for you. The Suns and Cavaliers both rank in the bottom-five in the NBA in opponents' scoring and in the bottom-three in opponents' field-goal percentage.
These teams met in Phoenix on Nov. 9 and the Cavaliers squandered a 26-point lead to fall 107-105. It was the Suns' largest home comeback in franchise history. Phoenix us 4-1 in their last five against the Cavs, including 2-0 in Cleveland.