The Boston Celtics lead the league in field-goal percentage by a wide margin, so it was surprising to see them turn in one of their worst shooting efforts in years on the second stop of a four-game road trip.
They more than made up for it one game later.
Coming off a sharp-shooting performance in a resounding victory over the two-time defending champions, the Celtics look to wrap up their trip with an eighth straight win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
Boston (36-11) is shooting 50.1 percent from the field -- nearly 3.0 better than the league's second-best team -- so it was stunning to see the Eastern Conference's top squad struggle Friday against defensively challenged Phoenix.
The Suns came in giving up 107.9 points per game, but the Celtics shot 34.2 percent -- their lowest in nearly four years -- in an 88-71 loss.
They didn't let it linger Sunday in perhaps their biggest game of the regular season. Paul Pierce scored 32 points and Boston shot 60.3 percent while avenging its NBA finals loss with a 109-96 win over the Lakers.
"That's phenomenal," coach Doc Rivers said of his team's accuracy. "We lead the league in field-goal percentage, and we didn't act like that the last two games. We had a focus tonight. ... We don't do that every night unfortunately. As a coach I would like that."
The Celtics made 9 of 17 3-pointers against Los Angeles after shooting 7 of 35 (20.0 percent) from beyond the arc in the first two stops on their trip.
Sacramento (12-33), playing without guard Tyreke Evans (sprained ankle), didn't have much luck guarding Boston's shooters when it visited TD Garden on Jan. 12. The Celtics shot 52.1 percent overall -- hitting a season-high 12 of 20 3-pointers -- in a 119-95 rout, their seventh consecutive win in the series.
Nate Robinson and Ray Allen hit four 3s apiece in that win. When Allen has hit three or more from beyond the arc -- as he did in scoring 21 against the Lakers -- Boston is 19-1.
The Kings, however, seem to making some defensive adjustments that weren't there when they saw the Celtics three weeks ago. They've allowed an average of 96.9 points in going 4-5 in their last nine games, 6.3 fewer than they allowed in their first 36.
That improved defense has paid off as Sacramento has won consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 30-Nov. 1. The Kings held the Lakers to 41.3 percent shooting in a 100-95 road win Friday, then limited New Orleans to 43.2 percent in a 102-96 home victory Saturday.
"We've shown great strides in both focus and poise," coach Paul Westphal said. "We had some hard knocks early in the season, helping us deal with the bumps in the road."
If Sacramento plans on knocking off a third straight stellar opponent, it'll likely need DeMarcus Cousins to keep producing. The rookie center had 27 points against the Lakers, then had 25 points, 12 boards and a season-high seven assists versus the Hornets.
"(DeMarcus) is intelligent, he learns," Westphal said. "He's learning what works and what doesn't. He's changed some habits offensively."
The Kings will have Evans back to deal with Rajon Rondo in this meeting, but Cousins might have to do some extra work in the paint. Power forward Jason Thompson left Saturday's win with a sprained ankle and was in a walking boot after the game, leaving his status for Tuesday in doubt.