Nets top Suns

Yuma Sun - - SUN SPORTS -

PHOENIX — Phoenix was the per­fect place for the im­prov­ing Brook­lyn Nets to start a four-game trip, with the two top teams in the West still to come in Den­ver and Golden State.

The Nets beat the strug­gling Suns 104-82 Tues­day night and are 6-1 in Ari­zona since mov­ing from New Jer­sey to Brook­lyn in 2012.

Caris LeVert scored 26 points, D’An­gelo Rus­sell added 15 and the Nets won their third game in the past four, while the Suns have lost eight of nine.

Devin Booker led Phoenix with 20 points but made just 6 of 21 shots. De­an­dre Ay­ton had 15 points and a sea­son-high 13 re­bounds.

“We just tried to make ev­ery shot tough, ev­ery catch tough,” LeVert said. “We did a good job of that.”

Brook­lyn held the Suns to a sea­son low in points and field goal shoot­ing at 34.6 per­cent.

“We’re grow­ing up in terms of our phys­i­cal­ity on the de­fen­sive end,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkin­son said.

The Suns went on a 9-0 run to turn a 14-point deficit in the third quar­ter to 63-58 dif­fer­ence on Trevor Ariza’s cor­ner 3 with 5:31 to play. The Nets re­gained a 14-point lead, 74-60, with Spencer Din­wid­die’s 3 at the 2:18 mark.

“Not to look for­ward, but you look at the sched­ule and you know who you have next and this one is def­i­nitely a winnable game,” Nets cen­ter Ed Davis said. “It’s a game we def­i­nitely needed to win and han­dled busi­ness.”

Phoenix never threat­ened in the fourth, the Suns’ cold shoot­ing help­ing the Nets re­main in con­trol. Davis’ dunk made it 92-74 with 4:15 to play.

The Nets’ strat­egy seemed to be to let the 7-foot-1 Ay­ton shoot mid-range shots rather than al­low him to work in­side the paint. It worked for much of the game, as the Suns’ high-pro­file rookie made just 6 of 17 shots.

Both teams strug­gled to hit shots in the first quar­ter, with field goal per­cent­ages of less than 40 both ways.

The Nets, up two af­ter one quar­ter, led by 14 dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter. Ron­dae Hol­lis-Jef­fer­son’s short turn­around bank shot made it 47-34 with 2:53 to go be­fore half­time.

“En­ergy, ef­fort wasn’t there, mind wasn’t there,” Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov said.

Phoenix got back-to-back 3s from Mikal Bridges and Ariza to cut the lead to 50-42, and the Suns trailed by 10 at the half.

Suns backup cen­ter Richaun Holmes had sea­son highs of 13 points and 10 re­bounds.

TIP-INS

Suns: F T.J. War­ren re­turned af­ter miss­ing the team’s last game with back spasms . ... Booker en­tered the game sec­ond in the NBA with an av­er­age of 9.8 points per game in the fourth quar­ter. He had four in the fi­nal 12 min­utes . ... G Ja­mal Craw­ford moved into 29th place ca­reer in games

played (1,271).

UN­EX­PECTED LET­DOWN

The Suns, com­ing off a 102-100 win over Mem­phis on Sun­day, had hoped that win was the start of a turn­around. But it didn’t hap­pen, at least right away, and the home team heard the boos to­ward the end of the game.

“It sucks, man,” Booker said. “We thought last game would be our step for­ward and we def­i­nitely took a step back tonight. We got blown out in front of our fans, so it’s em­bar­rass­ing.”

Kokoskov wasn’t pleased with the per­for­mance. “I know the fans love the Phoenix Suns, come here ex­cited to watch these guys. They’re not driv­ing home happy,” he said.

DUD­LEY DO­ING RIGHT

Dud­ley, with 11 pro sea­sons to his credit, has started all 11 games for the Nets this sea­son, and Atkin­son said Dud­ley gets an “Aplus” for lead­er­ship. “He’s do­ing it in the locker room and he is also do­ing it with his play be­cause he doesn’t need the ball in his hands,” Atkin­son said. “He’s go­ing to space the floor and he’s an in­tel­li­gent de­fender.”

UP NEXT

Suns: Host the Bos­ton Celtics on Thurs­day.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

PHOENIX SUNS GUARD DEVIN BOOKER (1) is fouled by Brook­lyn Nets guard Caris LeVert dur­ing the sec­ond half of Tues­day’s game in Phoenix.

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