Winner could be loser in Suns-Hawks game
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ATLANTA -- The winner of Sunday's game at Philips Arena between the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns might turn out to be the loser.
The teams are in an eight-way battle for the worst record in the NBA and the most ping-pong balls in the lottery for the first pick in the draft.
Phoenix (19-45) has the second-worst record, while Atlanta (19-44) is third going into the teams' second of two meetings this season.
The Suns edged the Hawks 104-103 in Phoenix on Jan. 2 but are 4-21 since, going winless in February.
Phoenix snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 110-102 victory on Wednesday over the Memphis Grizzlies, who lost their 11th in a row, but returned to its losing ways against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, falling 124-116 despite 39 points from Devin Booker.
Oklahoma City, which got 43 points from Russell Westbrook, scored the final 10 points.
"I think we probably fatigued a little bit," Phoenix interim coach Jay Triano told reporters afterward. "I don't know if our guys are used to playing at that level for that long of a period of time, but that's what we'll get to."
Booker gives the Suns a building block. At 21 years, 123 days old, he became the third-youngest player in NBA history to reach 4,000 career points. Only LeBron James and Kevin Durant were younger.
The third-year guard from Kentucky has scored 28, 27, 30, 40, 34 and 39 points in his last six games while making 23 3-pointers. He missed the four games prior to that with a hip injury.
The Hawks had won seven straight home games against Western Conference teams before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday and Golden State Warriors on Friday.
Like the Suns against the Thunder, the Hawks hung tough against the Warriors, but couldn't pull out an upset.
Dennis Schroder, who had 27 points, sank two free throws to pull the Hawks within two points, but Andre Iguodala's steal and layup carried Golden State through.
Kent Bazemore, who fumbled the ball to Iguodala, had a career-high 29 points for the Hawks.
"The season being what it's been, I've kind of been frustrated," Bazemore said. "That's not who I am and that's not what got me here."
The teams have split the last six meetings with the home team winning each time.
Booker, averaging 25.2 points, scored 34 in the Suns' one-point victory in January, while T.J. Warren had 31 points.
After Booker, who scored eight points in the final 37 seconds, sank three free throws to put Phoenix ahead with 12.3 seconds to play, Marquese Chriss soared to block Taurean Prince's shot at the rim with 7 seconds to go.
Booker was 14 of 15 at the foul line, including 11-for-11 in the second half.
"To be able to play bad like that, come back and get a win down late, that's big," Booker told reporters after that game.
The trip to Atlanta begins a four-game road swing for the Suns, who are without Tyson Chandler. The veteran center has missed five straight games because of a neck injury.
Updated March 3, 2018