Mired in their first lull of the young season, the Oklahoma City Thunder hope an opponent they've usually handled in recent years can get them going again.
The Thunder take a three-game losing streak into Sunday night's return to Chesapeake Energy Arena, where the Phoenix Suns haven't won in nearly five years.
After averaging 122.7 points during a 3-0 start under new coach Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City (3-3) has been held under 100 in consecutive defeats to Toronto and Chicago that followed Monday's 110-105 setback at Houston. An inability to prevent points at key moments has been perhaps the bigger issue, as the Thunder were outscored in the fourth quarter in losing all three by six or less.
The Bulls shot 60 percent in the final period during Thursday's 104-98 win at the United Center, one day after the Thunder couldn't hold an eight-point lead with under five minutes left in a 103-98 home loss to the Raptors.
Oklahoma City is allowing 108.7 points per game overall and also ranks near the bottom of the league with 12.8 turnovers forced per game. The Thunder induced only six against Chicago.
''We have to figure it out. We've got to get stops," Thunder forward Kevin Durant said. "We have to buckle down and do it.''
The Thunder have less concerns on the offensive end with a healthy Durant and Russell Westbrook combining for 57 points per game. Durant had 33 on Thursday and is shooting 42.5 percent from 3-point range.
Oklahoma City will have to make strides defensively to avoid a fourth consecutive loss, as Phoenix (3-3) is 3-0 when scoring over 100 points and 0-3 when failing to reach that mark.
The Thunder have scored 102 or more in 17 of their last 18 meetings with the Suns and have won 14 of 17 in the series. They've been especially dominant at home, with Phoenix having dropped eight straight in Oklahoma City since a 113-110 victory on Dec. 19, 2010.
Durant averaged 33.5 points and was 7 of 13 on 3s in two wins over Phoenix last season, while Westbrook averaged 30.0 to help the Thunder take three of four 2014-15 matchups.
The Suns have endured an up-and-down start as well, as a just-completed two-game homestand will attest. After recording 27 assists and going 14 of 23 from long range in Wednesday's 118-97 rout of Sacramento, they were held to 40.2 percent shooting overall with a season-low 14 assists in Friday's 100-92 loss to Detroit.
"We're definitely still trying to learn each other's game," forward Markieff Morris said. "We're six games in and we've just got to put it together more. We've got to have better starts to the second half and the beginning of the game."
The Suns were done in by a poor finish last time out, as the Pistons were 9 of 11 from the field during a 33-point fourth quarter.
Though the offseason addition of center Tyson Chandler has improved the Suns' interior defense and rebounding, they've allowed opponents to make 36.5 percent of their 3-point attempts. The Thunder are shooting a league-best 39.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Thunder center Steven Adams will be a game-time decision after exiting Thursday's game with back soreness.