The Phoenix Suns are hoping a few games in the desert will move them closer to a playoff spot, as they kick off a four-game homestand tonight versus the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Suns are one game behind Houston for the final postseason berth in the Western Conference and two games in back of Denver for the No. 7 seed with six games to play. They will also host the Thunder, Clippers and Nuggets on the residency and own a 17-11 mark at home this season.
Phoenix just completed a four-game road trip with a 2-2 mark and is coming off Saturday's 105-91 loss at San Antonio. Sebastian Telfair tallied 21 points off the bench, while Michael Redd chipped in 13 for Phoenix, which had won two straight and five of six games before losing two of its last three.
"We've been on the road a lot. We get a chance to be at home and try to finish," remarked veteran guard Grant Hill, who finished with four points in his second game back after a nine-game absence due to a knee issue. "It's a tough loss, it's embarrassing, but we're still in the hunt."
Marcin Gortat had only six points and seven rebounds, and Steve Nash ended with two points in less than six minutes of action. Nash was bothered by a sore back and hip, and is questionable for Monday. Hill is also questionable for a Phoenix squad that will play five of six games at home to end the regular season and is 17-9 since the All-Star break.
Portland is in the midst of playing five of six contests on the road to close out a disappointing campaign. Portland's play on the road has hampered any chances of making a playoff run, as well as the loss of All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (hip).
The Trail Blazers have dropped two straight and four of five games, including Sunday's 104-103 setback at Sacramento. Marcus Thornton's jumper with 3.4 seconds left lifted the Kings to victory and sent the Blazers to an 8-21 mark as the visitor. Wesley Matthews connected on eight three-pointers, including the go-ahead three before Thornton's game-winning shot, and scored 31 points to pace Portland.
"Thornton made a good read," Matthews said. "[DeMarcus Cousins] gave a pretty good [screen]."
Raymond Felton had 19 points and J.J. Hickson added 10 and 13 boards in defeat. The Blazers may want to work on their defense and are giving up an average of 104.2 ppg in the last five.
Portland and Phoenix have split two meetings this season, while the Blazers have dropped 12 of 14 trips to the Valley of the Sun.