Nets aim for bounce back against setting Suns

The Brooklyn Nets lost for the first time on its long road trip Saturday night, but they get right back at it Sunday when they visit the Phoenix Suns.

The Nets fell to the Los Angeles Clippers, 101-95 Saturday at the Staples Center. Brooklyn led in the fourth quarter, but couldn't overcome Chris Paul, who scored 19 of his 23 points in the fourth frame.

"We put ourselves in a position to win and they did a better job of closing it out," Brooklyn head coach P.J. Carlesimo said.

Brook Lopez and Deron Williams both had 18 points, while Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson, who suffered a right quad contusion, scored 15 apiece. C.J. Watson netted 10 off the bench and Reggie Evans grabbed 16 rebounds.

The loss put the Nets at 2-1 on this eight-game road trip. The setback, coupled with a New York Knicks win on Saturday night over the Toronto Raptors, put the Nets 2 1/2 games behind the Knicks for the Atlantic Division lead.

That is the same margin the Nets are behind both the Knicks and Indiana Pacers for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Suns are in a terrible rut, losing two straight, six of seven and 17 of 23 since the start of February.

After an 88-79 home loss to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, interim coach Lindsey Hunter openly questioned the team's effort and sat Markieff and Marcus Morris, Kendall Marshall and Michael Beasley the entire second half. Poor Jared Dudley planned to sit the game out with the flu, but had to play when Hunter imposed law.

Two nights later, the Suns laid another egg, and, against another non-playoff team.

The Minnesota Timberwolves came to Phoenix and buried the Suns, 117-86. The Wolves were up 67-39 at the half and, although the Suns battled some, the final result was lopsided.

"I'm not frustrated," said Hunter. "You always get disappointed when you don't think your guys played up to potential or played with the type of intensity you would like. That is the part you would never want to see. We will stay the course and keep working."

All of those players that were benched on Wednesday, logged regular minutes on Friday.

Luis Scola led the Suns with 17 points. Goran Dragic, P.J. Tucker and Beasley scored in double figures.

The Suns have lost the last two to the Nets, including a 99-79 setback in Brooklyn on Jan. 11. But the Suns are 16-2 in its last 18 against the Nets in Phoenix.