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Nets & Suns try to rise in the standings

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"You worried about the wrong things, the wrong things..."
"You worried about the wrong things, the wrong things..."
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Yeah, I don't know what happened either. The Brooklyn Nets had won their last two games heading into Wednesday's game with the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets were on the second half of a back-to-back and played a tight game against the Lakers the night before. What happened? The Nets were never competitive and got smoked by 24 points in front of the home fans. The loss took the Nets out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture and they currently find themselves tenth in the standings. They're one half game behind Indiana and only one half game ahead of Boston.

Coming into the Barclays Center will be the Phoenix Suns. The Suns also find themselves in a heated playoff race and they too are on the outside looking in. They won their last ballgame on Wednesday, a 105-100 decision in Orlando against the Magic. They've struggled recently, losing eight out of their last 12 games. Even with that, the Suns are within striking distance of Oklahoma City and New Orleans with plenty of time left in the season.

Injuries

Nothing here for the Nets.

The Suns are good as well.

The game

What's going on? Let's get down to business:

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Phoenix

Record

25-34 32-30

Pace

94.54 99.54

Offensive Efficiency

100.7 105.2

Defensive Efficiency

104.6 104.1

Turnover Rate

14.9 15.2

Assist Rate

16.2 15.6

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23.6 24.7

Rebounding Rate

48.8 48.7

Free Throw Rate

26.6 25.2

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.9 51.3

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.1 49.9

The Suns won the first meeting back in November.

The Suns are looking pretty different these days. They traded their big 2014 free agent acquisition Isaiah Thomas at the deadline and brought back Brandon Knight (more on him later). Also, Goran Dragic forced his way out of town and is now in Miami.

Athletic teams that play fast tend to give Brooklyn trouble. Phoenix fits the bill and plays at the second fastest pace in the Association, averaging 99 possessions a night. Brooklyn will look to play at a slow pace and keep it in the halfcourt.

With all of the changes, it'll be up to Eric Bledsoe to keep things going for Phoenix. The three point guard alignment didn't work for the Suns and Bledsoe is back running the show. He's super quick, finishes well at the rim, and works to keep his teammates involved in the offense. He has a bit of a turnover problem, and committed seven on Wednesday vs Orlando. Deron Williams is on the other side and is looking to

We get to see an old friend tonight. This is Gerald Green's second season with the Suns and he will be a free agent this summer. His numbers are down across the board as he's now coming off the bench, but he's still a player that can get hot at a moment's notice.

If this game is close late, the Nets have two reliable scoring options that can get them a critical basket. Jarrett Jack has hit some big baskets near the end of the game and the Nets don't have to just give it to Joe Johnson and hope he gets something good. The second option makes the Brooklyn offense more versatile and opens up more options for them.

If there's any positive to getting blown out, it's that you can give your key players some extra rest before the next game. No Net played over 27 minutes so everyone should be rested and ready to give a better effort tonight.

Player to watch: Brandon Knight

He's only been with the team for seven games, and naturally it's taking some time to adjust. He was a borderline All Star candidate with Milwaukee, but has only shot 38.5 percent from the field as a Sun. He might be on the verge of turning things around if his game on Wednesday was any indication. He scored 25 points and made ten free throws.

More than half of Knight's shot attempts as a Sun have come from three point range. For Markel Brown and the Nets defenders, it creates an interesting dilemma. Knight is shooting a more than respectable 39.9 percent from three point range, so chasing him off the line is of the utmost importance. He can get to the rim, but he doesn't do it as much this year compared to his first three years in the league. Brook Lopez is a pretty respectable rim defender, holding teams to 51.1 percent at the basket when he's on the court. That will afford Brown and the rest the luxury of playing tight on Knight and preventing the threes from going in.

From the Vault

Since he won't be back this year (maybe ever?) and the Suns are in direct competition with the Thunder (then Sonics) for a playoff spot, let's head on back to 2006 and watch Ray Allen go to work against the Steve Nash led Suns.

More reading: Bright Side Of The Sun