April 15, 2014

Jeff Hornacek is hoping his Phoenix Suns can be more consistent defensively after an improved performance.

They might be able to learn from the Brooklyn Nets, who have shored up their defense - at least at home.

Phoenix continues its six-game trip Tuesday night against the Nets.

The Suns (8-9) opened the trip by snapping a four-game skid with a 107-102 win over Toronto on Sunday. Their effort at the defensive end was a marked improvement, considering they had given up 120 or more points in three of four and were routed 135-116 by Golden State two nights earlier.

The Raptors were held to 44.2 percent shooting, a number much more palatable than the 56.8 percent mark Phoenix surrendered to the Warriors.

Fewer turnovers also helped the Suns' cause. They committed a season low-tying 10 after averaging 17.8 in the previous four contests, off of which opponents scored 20.3 points per game.

"The last four games we've been giving up a lot of points," Hornacek told the team's official website. "I thought our defensive effort was a lot better tonight. We didn't turn the ball over and when you're on the road you can't turn the ball over."

Eric Bledsoe helped preserve Sunday's victory by blocking Luis Scola's potential tying 3-pointer with less than a second left. He had 20 points and 11 assists, while Brandon Knight added 21 and five.

Bledsoe is averaging 22.6 and 6.3 while Knight is at 21.5 and 5.5, creating the NBA's only duo to average at least 20 and five apiece. Only four pairs in league history have done it for an entire season.

Brooklyn (4-13) has won three in a row at home, giving up 90.7 points and 39.4 percent shooting per game. The Nets allowed 105.1 points and 47.0 percent shooting in their 14 other contests.

They held Detroit to 33.7 percent in Sunday's 87-83 home victory. Brook Lopez had season highs of six blocked shots and five assists and tied a career high with four steals to make up for his 6-for-18 shooting.

"We definitely had to grind it out," said Lopez, who scored 15 points. "We stuck with it, though, and our bench definitely gave us good minutes. Our guys stuck it out, we kept fighting and things weren't going our way the majority of the game, but we kept with it."

If Wayne Ellington's performance was a sign of things to come, Brooklyn could be in for a boost. Ellington scored a season-high 12 and was 5 of 7 from the field after previously shooting 29.5 percent on the season.

"I cracked the code tonight," he told the team's official website. "To get out there and make a couple shots in a row gave me a bunch of confidence."

Phoenix won both meetings last season and has taken seven of its last 10 road games in the series.

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