The Phoenix Suns went through a stretch of four wins in five games after making a coaching change but have since dropped three in a row. The Suns reportedly engineered another major shakeup on Tuesday and will find out if that’s the key to breaking out of the current rut at the expense of the struggling Miami Heat, who visit on Wednesday.
Phoenix, which returned home from a five-game road trip on Monday and could not find the energy to do battle with the Brooklyn Nets in a 98-92 loss that marked the lowest-scoring game of the brief Jay Triano era as coach, finally dealt disgruntled point guard Eric Bledsoe away on Tuesday morning. Bledsoe, who has not played since Oct. 21 after being sent away by the team, is reportedly being sent to the Milwaukee Bucks for a package that includes veteran center Greg Monroe and a first-round pick. The Suns once traded away Goran Dragic to open up more playing time for Bledsoe, and Dragic returns to the desert on Wednesday leading a Heat squad that scored a season low in a 97-80 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday to fall to 1-2 on the six-game road trip. Dragic scored 19 points in the setback and is averaging 19.3 points and 4.8 assists.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FS Sun (Miami), FS Arizona (Phoenix)
ABOUT THE HEAT (4-6): Miami coach Erik Spoelstra benched Hassan Whiteside in the second half of Monday’s loss after the center lost his focus on a play. “I guess he thought it was better if I didn’t come back in,” Whiteside told reporters. “Coach playing me 16 minutes, I guess that’s what he wanted me to play. ... Last game, I played 31 minutes. I thought I played great (Sunday at the Clippers). Today, I played 16 minutes. So, I really don’t know what I‘m going to play (Wednesday) in Phoenix.” Whiteside was just 1-of-9 from the floor when he was benched and finished with three points and six rebounds, well off his season averages of 15.2 points and 12.4 boards.
ABOUT THE SUNS (4-7): Phoenix shooting guard Devin Booker, 21, became the fourth-youngest player in NBA history (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony) to reach 3,000 points when he scored 18 against the Nets on Monday. “My dream my whole life was to play in the NBA,” Booker told reporters. “Once I got here I realized I wanted to leave a mark, so every time I got out there I try to think back to those days when I was a little kid and wanted to be successful in this league. I‘m trying to do it and get wins along with it.” Booker is averaging 21.6 points on the season and is 29-of-29 from the free-throw line in the last five games.
1. Suns SG Troy Daniels went 1-of-4 from 3-point range on Monday after going 9-of-13 in the previous three games.
2. Heat SG Dion Waiters left the team Monday to attend the birth of his daughter and could sit out Wednesday as well.
3. Miami took 13 of the last 14 in the series, with the lone loss coming at Phoenix last season.
PREDICTION: Heat 106, Suns 103