Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns have been much different on the road than at home.
Kyrie Irving continues to impress regardless of where he’s playing.
Arguably the best point guard of the past decade takes on his possible heir apparent for the first time Thursday night when Nash and the Suns host Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Phoenix (4-5) is coming off another poor offensive performance on the road, falling 99-83 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night as Kobe Bryant scored 48 points. That was only nine fewer than the Suns’ starting five combined.
Nash had eight assists, his fewest in five games this month, as his team was held to 42.5 percent from the field. Phoenix has failed to crack 100 points in all four of its road games, averaging 90.5 while shooting 42.4 percent, and has lost the last three.
The Suns had similar problems in dropping their first two home games, getting held below 85 points in both, but they’ve scored more than 100 in each of the last three and won them all. They’ve shot 49.0 percent from the field and averaged 24.3 assists during that home winning streak.
Nash has shot 77.8 percent from the field (21 of 27) in those three games. The two-time MVP is at 41.5 percent on the road this season while averaging 10.8 points, compared to 13.2 at home.
Irving, meanwhile, has averaged 17.1 points in his last seven games. The No. 1 overall pick tops all rookies in scoring (15.6 ppg) and is second in assists (5.1 per game).
He scored 20 points Tuesday, but the Cavaliers fell to 1-3 on their seven-game road trip with a 113-105 loss in Utah.
“This loss tonight was about us,” Irving said. “We kind of beat up ourselves tonight.”
Now Cleveland (4-5) looks to beat up the Suns on the offensive glass.
Phoenix has given up a league-worst average of 13.7 offensive rebounds, including 15.0 in four games over the past week. The Cavaliers are grabbing 13.0 per game in that span, among the league’s best, as Anderson Varejao has reached double digits in rebounds in all four games.
The Suns let the Lakers score 18 second-chance points on 14 offensive boards Tuesday.
“We couldn’t score at the end of the game and we gave up too many offensive rebounds again,” Nash said. “They got 18 second-chance points. I mean, that’s nearly one out of every five points that’s a second-chance point, and that’s too many.”
However, a pair of Suns big men have gotten hot on the offensive end lately. Center Marcin Gortat is averaging 17.0 points on 69.6 percent shooting over the past four games. Forward Channing Frye is 7 of 9 from 3-point range in the last two, totaling 33 points, after going 4 for 23 through the first seven games while averaging 5.4 points.
Frye averaged 17.0 points in last season’s sweep of the Cavaliers. Nash had 17.5 points and 16.0 assists per game in those two meetings.
Antawn Jamison scored 23 points in each but has lost eight straight against Phoenix – the first six while with Washington.