National Basketball Association
Phoenix at Orlando
When: 7:00 PM ET, Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
The Phoenix Suns desperately need a victory to stay in striking distance of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference when they visit the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. The Suns dropped a 115-98 decision in a physical affair at Miami on Monday for their 10th loss in 13 contests to drop 2 ½ games behind eighth-place Oklahoma City. Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek will look for more intensity from his team and the Magic have dropped three straight after winning a season-high three in a row.
The Suns had two players ejected against Miami and allowed 52.4 percent shooting while turning the ball over 19 times. “We have to get tougher and we have to find tougher guys who are going to battle,” Hornacek told the Arizona Republic. “I get tired of watching us not go after (loose) balls. There is nothing worse to me than being soft and not going after a ball.” The Magic have improved defensively, but averaged only 87 points the last three games.TV:
7 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona (Phoenix), FSN Florida (Orlando)ABOUT THE SUNS (31-30):
Phoenix is 28th in the league in scoring defense and owns a minus-2.2 rebound differential, leading forward P.J. Tucker to tell reporters, “It’s not giving up turnovers and not everybody getting back. It’s simple one-on-one stuff. It’s physically. It’s mentally.” The Suns are third in the league in scoring (105.7) and have five active players averaging in double figures, led by Eric Bledsoe (17.3). Markieff Morris averages 15 points and Brandon Knight is contributing 13.5 in six games since being acquired.ABOUT THE MAGIC (19-42):
Orlando has struggled since coughing up an eight-point lead in the final minute of regulation and losing at home last Wednesday to Miami 93-90 in overtime. Center Nikola Vucevic -- averaging 19.8 points -- will try to rebound after scoring only 10 in the 98-83 loss to Charlotte on Sunday and Victor Oladipo has posted 18.5 points per game in his last six outings. Fourth-leading scorer Evan Fournier (hip), rookie Aaron Gordon (ankle) and point guard Luke Ridnour (hamstring) are all questionable.BUZZER BEATERS
1. Orlando F Tobias Harris scored a team-high 21 points as the Magic won 93-90 at Phoenix on Nov. 30 after the Suns won both meetings last season.
2. Phoenix G Gerald Green is averaging 12 points, but has made only 4-of-18 from the field for a total of nine the last three contests.
3. Vucevic boasts 35 double-doubles, second only to Chicago’s Pau Gasol (38) in the league. PREDICTION:
Suns 106, Magic 99
Stats and Records