Reeling Suns Face Nets, Attempt To Find Misplaced Chemistry, Heart, Offense; 7 P.M. AZT

(Sports Network) - On the brink of remaking their entire franchise, the New Jersey Nets will kick off a four-game western road trip in the desert tonight against the Phoenix Suns.

The Nets have been in deep negotiations to pick up All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups from Denver in a blockbuster three-team deal, but all the speculation to this point remains just that as New Jersey begins a tough trek that will also include visits to the LA Lakers, Portland and Golden State.

The Nets lost for the seventh time in eight games on Saturday in Newark when Chris Douglas-Roberts celebrated his 24th birthday by scoring a game-high 24 points off the bench, as the Milwaukee Bucks trounced New Jersey, 115-92.

Douglas-Roberts, who spent his two previous NBA seasons with the Nets, also dished out four assists and grabbed three steals.

Kris Humphries led the Nets with 22 points and eight rebounds in a reserve role. Jordan Farmar scored 20 and dished out a game-high 10 assists for New Jersey, which has dropped two straight and six consecutive to Milwaukee.

"They were small out there tonight and we couldn't make them pay inside the paint," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "We get the ball in the paint and we don't finish. Offensively tonight we couldn't get anything going and it put a strain on our defense."

Devin Harris (right quad contusion) and Troy Murphy (virus), who have both been rumored as part of any deal, sat out against Milwaukee. Murphy did not make the trip out West but Harris is expected back in the lineup tonight.

The Suns, meanwhile, are just happy they will not have to face Anthony on consecutive nights. The All-Star notched a double-double with 28 points and 10 rebounds on Tuesday in the Rockies as the Nuggets throttled Phoenix, 132-98, at the Pepsi Center.

Vince Carter and Steve Nash both finished with 15 points for the Suns, who have dropped three of four and eight of 11 since their six-player trade with Orlando on December 18.

Marcin Gortat, Goran Dragic and Channing Frye each finished with 11 points as Phoenix struggled without veteran swingman Grant Hill, who is out with a sprained right knee.

"It seemed like we stopped believing, but we play tomorrow night," Nash said. "We have to come out and feel good about ourselves again."

Phoenix swept the home-and-home series with the Nets a year ago and has won seven of eight overall in this series.

The game tips off at 7 p.m. local time and will be broadcast on My45 locally. Bright Side of the Sun will host a live game thread for all your panicking needs, gnashing of teeth and wild trade ideas, BSOTS will not provide paper bags for hyperventilation but will provide a virtual shoulder to cry upon.

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