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Slumping Suns set for showdown with rival Warriors

Jan 8, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) shoots a free throw against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns hope to extend a winning streak and end a losing skid at the same time when they visit the Golden State Warriors and possibly Stephen Curry on Tuesday night in San Francisco.

In a duel between last year’s Western Conference regular-season and NBA postseason champs, Phoenix exacted a double-dose of revenge for their disappointing ending last May with 134-105 and 130-119 home wins over Golden State early this season. Now the Suns will try to make it four straight wins over the Warriors dating to last season.

The Suns were 15-6 at one point before plummeting of late, dropping to 20-21 after losing nine of 10, including the last six in a row.

Playing without Devin Booker, Cam Johnson, Cameron Payne and season-long holdout Jae Crowder, Phoenix has failed to score 100 points in any of its last four games.

The Suns were held to 98 in their most recent outing Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a 14-point home loss during which Chris Paul joined his teammates on the sidelines with a hip injury.

Paul remains out for the Golden State game as Phoenix tips off a seven-day, four-game trip.

With or without Paul, Deandre Ayton insisted the Suns are capable of bigger and better things.

“We can do it with this group,” he said after the Cleveland game. “We just have to make sure we stay on top of it and understand that we don’t have the luxury to mess up. We don’t have that right now.”

Ayton (left ankle sprain) is considered questionable for the Suns.

To add insult to injury, the Suns could find themselves the untimely visitors on the night when Curry returns to the Golden State lineup.

The Warriors star, who had 50 points in the most recent loss at Phoenix in November, has missed Golden State’s last 11 games with a dislocated left shoulder. However, he was able to practice over the last two days and the Warriors in turn have slapped a “probable” tag on his potential return for the nationally televised contest.

If the Warriors learned anything from their previous game, a 115-101 home loss to the Orlando Magic on Saturday, it was not to expect much from a player coming off a long absence.

Against the Magic, Golden State got Andrew Wiggins back after 15 games off due to an adductor strain followed by an illness, and saw Andre Iguodala make his season debut following season-long hip rehab. They combined for 12 points (all by Wiggins) in 31 minutes (19 by Wiggins).

“Just felt a little rusty out there,” Wiggins said. “I know it’s going to take a little time. I’ll be good.”

Should Curry be able to play, it would come on a special night. The Warriors plan to honor his brother-in-law, Damion Lee, in a pregame ceremony during which he will receive his 2022 championship ring.

Lee, who is married to Curry’s sister Sydel, joined the Suns as a free agent over the offseason after having spent the last four years with Golden State. He currently leads the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage (48.0).

He made four of his five 3-point attempts and totaled 14 points in the two earlier Suns wins over his former team.

–Field Level Media