Schedule not shining on Suns

The Phoenix Suns are carrying plenty of positive momentum into their first back-to-back-to-back stretch of the season.

A matchup with Golden State wouldn’t seem likely to slow them down, but the Warriors are also playing quality basketball right now.

Phoenix looks to extend its road winning streak to four and defeat Golden State for a 12th time in the last 13 meetings Monday night.

Most sports books monitored by the SportsOptions odds product have installed the Warriors as three-point home favorites, with the total set at 203.

After losing 14 of their first 22 games, the Suns (12-15) seem to have turned a corner. Phoenix has since won four of five – including three straight in opposing arenas by an average of 8.3 points.

“One thing for us lately, we’ve been playing a lot better,” said swingman Jared Dudley, who’s made 17 of 31 (54.8 percent) 3-point attempts while averaging 16.0 points over his last eight games.

“Guys know the rotation … (we’ve) stuck with the same starting lineup. The bench players know when to come in so we kind of have a better chemistry because of that. We’ve been playing better on the road.”

Phoenix typically plays quite well versus Golden State (10-14). The Suns defeated the Warriors for the seventh straight time and 11th in the last 12 meetings with a 102-91 home win Jan. 2.

Steve Nash, who led the way with 21 points in that game, scored only four Saturday but dished out 15 assists in a 98-84 win at Sacramento. The eight-time All-Star amassed those assists despite missing most of the second quarter getting stitches to sew up a wound in his lower lip.

“He can dominate a game and not have a basket,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “He came back in the third quarter and helped us get separation.”

While Nash paced the offense, veteran Grant Hill came up big defensively, holding high-scoring Kings guard Tyreke Evans to 1-of-9 shooting.

“I’ve learned to reinvent myself and try to still be productive. At times that I’m called upon I can do things offensively but you know whatever it takes,” Hill said.

“We still got ways where I can help the team and that’s what I try to do. Some nights it might be something different. That’s just kind of what I do.”

Hill and the Suns could have their hands full defensively against a Warriors team coming off back-to-back victories over opponents with winning records. Three nights after prevailing 109-101 at Denver, Golden State beat Houston 106-97 at home Sunday.

“We want to get on a little win streak here and get back in the playoff hunt,” said rookie Klay Thompson, who has combined for 33 points in the last two games. “We’re more than capable right now.”

Thompson has gone 7 of 10 from 3-point range in his last two contests, and now has a chance to score in double figures three straight times for the first time in his career.

“He’s a big-time shooter, but he’s a big-time competitor and an underrated defender, underrated passer,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “It’s scary to think just how good he’s going to be.”

Monta Ellis, who scored 33 points Sunday, is averaging 29.2 over his last five contests – including a 48-point effort in Tuesday’s 119-116 loss to Oklahoma City. He’s averaging 29.6 points over his last five home matchups with Phoenix.

In addition to trying to contain Nash, the Warriors could have a hard time slowing down Channing Frye. The sharpshooting big man is averaging 17.8 points in his last four games – more than double his season mark of 8.6.

Frye is shooting 60.5 percent (26 of 43) from 3-point range versus Golden State in his career – his highest percentage against any opponent.

Phoenix visits Denver on Tuesday before returning home to conclude its back-to-back-to-back set Wednesday against Atlanta. The Suns will play three consecutive games again March 14-16.

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