On paper, Wednesday night’s game looked like a sure win for the Phoenix Suns.
One of their best players, Eric Bledsoe, returned from a knee injury that kept him in street clothes for 33 games.
Their opponent, the Cleveland Cavaliers, stumbled into US Airways Center lugging a 24-40 record and had lost four straight games.
Conditions were perfect — except they weren’t.
The Cavs blistered the nets for a season-high 37 points in the first quarter, and led the rest of the way in a 110-101 win.
“Our defense is not good,” Suns guard Goran Dragic said after the game.
The Suns did hold Cleveland to just 46.9 percent shooting from the floor — the first time they’ve held an opponent under 50 percent in eight games — but the Cavs still managed 110 points for just the 12th time all season.
Phoenix has yielded an average of nearly 112 points per game in their last 10 contests. They are 3-7 in that stretch.
“I don’t know what’s going on with us right now, but we have to get those things together,” Dragic said. “We are still in the playoff hunt and it’s still not over so we still have 18 games left so we need to figure these things out.
“That first quarter, they killed us. We played a litte bit better, but it takes a lot of energy out of you to come back.”
That’s been the recent trend for the Suns — digging a huge hole and then fighting back to make it a game. The Suns trailed Cleveland by as many as 15 points, but got to within two points late in the third quarter before allowing the Cavs to outscore them 31-24 the rest of the way.
Despite the struggles the Suns are experiencing currently, Dragic remains optimistic that the team can turn it around if there are big changes.
“It’s not the best season for us, but still, we want something more,” he said. “We believe we can play in the playoffs, but with this kind of energy, with his kind of intensity we’ve come with in the last five or six or seven games, it’s really hard to win.”
Phoenix hits the road for a three-game eastern swing that starts in Boston against the Celtics Friday night.