NEW YORK (AP) – The New Jersey Nets continue to be discussed as a possible landing spot for three-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony. Coach Avery Johnson, though, doesn’t see his lineup changing during the team’s upcoming road trip.
The Phoenix Suns are likely thankful they won’t have to face Anthony on consecutive nights.
The Nets kick off their four-game trip with a matchup against the struggling Suns on Wednesday night, trying to avoid a sixth consecutive road loss.
Devin Harris, Troy Murphy and rookie Derrick Favors – along with others – have been rumored as possible parts of a blockbuster deal that would ultimately land Anthony. Johnson, however, wants his team to focus strictly on basketball after Saturday’s 115-92 home loss to Milwaukee.
“They’re fine,” Johnson said of his players Tuesday. “Win or lose, it won’t be because they’re distracted. I thought they were distracted a little bit against Milwaukee; I haven’t seen that look in the last two days.”
After trailing by 13 points at the end of the first quarter against the Bucks, New Jersey (10-27) couldn’t battle back in one of its most lopsided losses of the season.
“Early on they went on a run and instead of us saying ‘I’m not going to take this anymore’ it’s kind of like ‘Here, we go again,’” said Jordan Farmar, who had 20 points and 10 assists. “That can’t happen. We have to be able to say this stops now.”
Kris Humphries had a season-high 22 points and is averaging 16.7 – 8.2 more than his season mark – in three games off the bench since starting 27 straight.
Harris (right quad contusion) and Murphy (virus) were both held out in the loss. While the Suns won’t have to worry about Murphy, who won’t travel on this trip, they will likely have to try and contain Harris, who is expected to return Wednesday. He scored a career-high 47 points in a 117-109 win in Phoenix on Nov. 30, 2008.
Despite a 12-point lead after 12 minutes Tuesday night in Denver, the Suns (15-21) went on to lose 132-98 due in large part to a poor defensive effort before and after halftime.
Phoenix, which suffered its worst loss since a 38-point defeat to the Nets on March 27, 2006, was outscored 82-40 in the second and third quarters while Anthony scored 23 of his 28 points.
“It feels like there’s a little lack of cohesion and chemistry. I don’t feel like we’re getting that performance and effort that we’re accustomed to and that’s disappointing,” said Steve Nash, who had 15 points. “It seems like when we lose the momentum we just go downhill fast. It’s like we stop believing.
“We’re all concerned and disappointed. We’ve got to keep fighting, that’s all we can do. You can’t cry about it, you’ve got to keep fighting.”
Nash is averaging 20.7 points and 12.6 assists over his last three contests versus the Nets while newly acquired Vince Carter, who spent four-plus seasons with New Jersey, has averaged 15.0 in five games against them following a trade to Orlando in 2009.
Phoenix’s Grant Hill was forced to miss Tuesday night’s loss with a sore right knee and ankle, snapping his streak of 70 straight regular-season games played. His status for Wednesday is unknown.
New Jersey has averaged 86.0 points during its five-game road losing streak – falling to 3-17 away from home – but could be in line for a breakout offensive performance against Phoenix, which has allowed 117.7 points over its last three games.
The Suns have taken seven of the last eight meetings with the Nets – outscoring them by 14.7 points in the wins.
© 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.