December 23, 2014

Given their current position in the Western Conference, the Dallas Mavericks are probably going to have to win some road games to enjoy any playoff success.

A first glance at their away record indicates that shouldn't be of particular concern, but the Mavericks, who don't seem destined for home-court advantage, haven't won a road game against a winning team in more than two months.

A stop in Phoenix on Sunday night will afford them an opportunity to shed that label, though the Suns are seeking a fourth straight win and 3-0 edge in the season series.

The Mavericks (44-26) are 20-14 away from home but have lost seven of 11, and the wins have come at Miami, Orlando, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Their last road win over a winning team came 103-95 at Memphis on Jan. 19, and they've dropped the last seven such matchups by an average of 12.6 points while shooting 40.7 percent, including 29.5 from beyond the arc.

It wasn't quite as bad during a 3-2 homestand that ended with Friday's 112-101 loss to Memphis, but no one was praising the latest effort, either. Memphis shot 53.2 percent, leaving Dallas' opponents on the homestand at a combined 48.7.

"It's ugly," coach Rick Carlisle told the team's official website. "There's no two ways about it, but we've got to take responsibility for it and prepare for the next one. And with a dozen left, they're going to go by quickly. It's an opportunity lost, unfortunately."

Dallas committed 17 turnovers and is averaging 16.2 in five games after entering that stretch at 12.6 for the season, which ranked third in the league. Rajon Rondo has been at the center of that with 16 in his last three games.

The Suns (37-33) have won both meetings this season while scoring 121.0 points per game, and they weren't far off that mark in Saturday's 117-102 win in Houston with Eric Bledsoe scoring a career-high 34.

The guard was 11 of 18 from the field, and even with a 2-for-15 performance two nights prior in a win over New Orleans, he's shooting 48.2 percent in six games. He too has been trying to limit turnovers and is averaging 4.9 in his last nine games.

"At the end of the day it's on me because I have the ball the whole game ... and when I play a little passive, that's when I get turnovers," Bledsoe said. "When I'm aggressive and going to the rim, I find guys and I play without thinking a lot."

In four games against Dallas since joining Phoenix, Bledsoe has averaged 22.3 points on 54.2 percent shooting overall and 53.3 from 3-point range.

Phoenix is opening a four-game homestand seeking some consistency after scoring 80 or fewer four times over the last 11 games. The winning streak has moved the Suns within 2 1/2 games of Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the West, and Bledsoe's teammates support him leading the way.

"I told him, he's got to be more aggressive for us if we are going to make this playoff push," said P.J. Tucker, who added 19 points and is averaging 12.7 in 10 games this month. "We need him to be aggressive on offense and defense because that pushes our team and it gets everybody else open."

With Brandon Knight still sidelined by an ankle injury, Tucker has started five straight games alongside Bledsoe in the backcourt.

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