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Suns defense set to take on Durant, Thunder

PHOENIX – The Suns and their energized defense host Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday.

A depleted Suns squad won the first meeting between the teams to improve them to 13-13, but haven’t held a .500 record since. The Suns (23-24) hope another win against the Thunder will get them back to .500 again.

“It’s a chance to get back to .500,” Dudley said. “I know they’re going to be looking for a little revenge because we got them up there, but we have to keep this consistency going.”

The biggest reason for the Suns new-found consistency probably lies in an improved defense.

Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry challenged his team to improve their defense just before the new year.

One month later, it appears as if the team responded.

“I told the guys ‘We are going to start judging our defense from this day forward,'” Gentry said after his team held Detroit to 40.8% shooting in a victory on December 31.

Including that game, the Suns are holding opponents to 44% from the floor winning 10 of the 17 games.

Go back over the last 10 games and the Suns are holding opponents to 42.8%, third best in all the NBA.

And on this current homestand in which the Suns are 3-and-1, their defensive field goal percentage drops to 39.4%.

On the season, the Suns are 27th overall at 47.2%.

The Suns will have their work cut out for them when they face Durant. Durant is averaging 29.3 points on 47% shooting this season.

Durant scored 43 against New Orleans in his last game, the third time in the last four games he’s eclipsed the 40-point mark.