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Nets battle Suns in Brooklyn

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NBA: Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Now that was a win! Even if it happened during a good season, it would have been special. In a season where wins have been at a premium, it was extra special.

Thursday, another team with a tough season arrives in Brooklyn from the Valley of the Sun. The Phoenix Suns are 22-49 and playing out the string, hoping their own rebuild will succeed just like the Nets. On Tuesday, they lost their fifth straight, to Miami, 112-95. The Suns game is the first half of an East Coast back-to-back. Friday, they play the Celtics in Boston.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.


Jeremy Lin, at this point, is probable. Joe Harris (shoulder) and Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) remain out.

The Suns have been devastated and have shut down Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler .

The game

The Nets won the first game between the two teams back in November, 122-104.

This is one the few times in 2016-17 when an opponent is doing worse than the Nets. They’ve lost five in a row and over the last 10, they’re 3-7. Brooklyn has won two of their last four; three of their last six, four of their last nine., their best stretch since the beginning of the season.

With one more setback, the Suns will have their second straight 50-loss season, something that hasn't happened since the mid-1970s.

For the Nets, this could be a milestone. A win would give them their first winning streak of the season. Having Lin back would help. So should the afterglow of Tuesday’s buzzer-beater.

And for one of their players, it could be payback. Archie Goodwin, nearing the end of his first 10-day contract, may not see much action Thursday. If Lin plays, he’ll move one seat down. But if he gets in, he’ll no doubt be thinking the same thing he talked about two days before: that he doesn’t think he got the chances he deserved in Phoenix. Watch this space.

Player to watch: Devin Booker

The Suns short-term and long-term future begins with the 20-year-old scorer. He’s averaging better than 20 points per game, shooting 42.2 percent overall and 36.4 from three. And if the game is close at the end, you don’t want the ball in his hands if you’re the opponent. He leads the NBA in buzzer beaters with five.

Booker was taken at No. 13 two years ago and it looks like when pundits eventually do their re-mix of the 2015 NBA Draft, he’s likely to go a lot higher.

He’ll be a challenge for Randy Foye, so expect Caris LeVert to get some time guarding the Kentucky product.

The Vault

Ten years ago this season, the Suns came to New Jersey. Steve Nash vs. Jason Kidd. It lived up to the hype. Nash finished with a career-high of 42 while Kidd had a triple double — 38 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists — as the Suns beat the Nets, 161-157 in double overtime

More reading: Bright Side of the Sun