CHARLOTTE, N.C.- In the NBA, there are teams that have to deal with struggles — and teams that are downright struggling.
The Suns had a good look at the other side of the fence Tuesday night, as they took a step toward working out their early-season kinks with a 115-83 win over a Charlotte team that came into the game flying high at 2-0 but is bound to head downhill from here.
Even with Amaré Stoudemire sitting out again to rest his sore knee, eight Suns reached double figures and the lead reached 34 points as Phoenix beat the Bobcats for the seventh time in as many meetings — they’ve scored at least 110 points in each win.
Keyed by their defense (forcing 22 turnovers) and transition game, the Suns offense took several forward steps and finally didn’t need to lean on Steve Nash (10 points, seven assists) for production.
Raja Bell snapped out of his early-season shooting slump with four 3-pointers and 16 points, and Boris Diaw collected 15 points and dished out a game-high 11 assists as the Suns had more easy baskets than in their first three games combined.
They’ll try for a third straight win tonight in Atlanta against Joe Johnson and the Hawks.
“We forced them to play our style and they had a hard time getting back on defense,” said Shawn Marion, who had his fourth double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds). “We were sharing the ball and we started to feel more like ourselves out there. Now we have to keep building on it.”
Meanwhile, a Charlotte team that has already lost Sean May and Adam Morrison for the season lost guard Raymond Felton to a left knee injury suffered in a third-quarter collision with Nash. Felton was helped off the court. Luckily, both X-rays and an MRI exam were negative. He’s sore but listed as day to day.
“They’ve been together a long time, and they just kind of overmatched us tonight,” said Charlotte coach Sam Vincent, who could be repeating that sentence a lot on the next five months.
Reserves Marcus Banks and Sean Marks combined for 27 points on 11-for-15 shooting.