During a disastrous six-week stretch filled with low points, the Phoenix Suns may have hit rock bottom.
Losers of eight straight and coming off their worst defensive performance in 25 years, the crumbling Suns try to salvage the finale of a forgettable road trip Sunday night against a Los Angeles Lakers team riding a rare high.
The Suns' longest losing streak since a 10-game skid March 20-April 8, 2013, has been a running soap opera. Disgruntled forward Marcus Morris was suspended two games for tossing a towel at coach Jeff Hornacek on Dec. 23 at Denver, and leading scorer Eric Bledsoe suffered a season-ending knee injury three days later in a home loss to league-worst Philadelphia that prompted the firing of assistants Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting.
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Phoenix (12-24) is nearing closer to Los Angeles (7-27) at the bottom of the Western Conference, a far cry from where it appeared to be headed following a 120-101 home victory over the Lakers on Nov. 16. The Suns are 6-19 since and have allowed opponents to score 109.3 points per game and shoot 48.6 percent, both league worsts in that span.
They were far worse than those dubious standards Saturday in Sacramento, where the sub-.500 Kings shot 60.9 percent en route to a 142-119 rout. It's the most points Phoenix has surrendered in a non-overtime game since a 155-127 defeat to the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls on Dec. 4, 1990.
The Suns permitted 83 points in the second half, with most of the damage coming after center Tyson Chandler was ejected for arguing a foul midway through the third quarter.
''We have to continue to play no matter what happens throughout the game," guard Brandon Knight said. ''In the third quarter we stopped getting stops."
Opponents have gone 56.8 percent from the field during Phoenix's three losses on the trip.
In contrast, Los Angeles began the new year with one of its best defensive efforts. The Lakers yielded their fewest points this season and limited Philadelphia to 36.9 percent shooting in Friday's 93-84 victory, giving the conference cellar-dwellers consecutive wins for the first time since a three-game run last February.
''We're starting to play off each other, and guys are just being comfortable in their own skin,'' guard Lou Williams said. ''These past few games we've played with a lot of confidence and played at a better pace."
Friday's result was achieved with Kobe Bryant sidelined by a sore right shoulder that has the retiring superstar questionable for this game. Williams helped fill the void by matching a season high with 24 points - 12 in the fourth quarter.
Jordan Clarkson added 19 points after recording 24 in Wednesday's 112-104 win at Boston.
Phoenix has lost six straight and nine of 11 on the road but has had a few bright spots on this trip. Second-year forward T.J. Warren followed a career-high 29 points in Thursday's loss at Oklahoma City with 19 against the Kings, rookie Devin Booker had a season-high 21 on Saturday and Knight broke out of a shooting slump to hit 9 of 17 for 23 points.
Knight, who shot 33.8 percent over his previous four, notched his only career triple-double with 30 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in the Nov. 16 win, the Suns' fifth straight over the Lakers and ninth in 10 matchups.