Booker's season-high 48 helps Suns rally past Spurs
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Devin Booker had a season-high 48 points and the Phoenix Suns dominated the fourth quarter to defeat the San Antonio Spurs 121-107 Monday night for their fourth straight victory.
Chris Paul added 15 points and 12 assists as Phoenix won its sixth straight on the road and fifth consecutive in San Antonio.
“It’s the benefit of having Chris Paul,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “Chris can read the game. Chris, when he reads it, he’ll just run certain sets that we have to get Book the ball in certain spots. When a guy is rolling like that, you just kind of let him have the ball and space the floor properly.”
Spurs center Jakob Poeltl had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Dejounte Murray added 18 points.
Phoenix arrived in San Antonio after a 135-108 victory in Detroit on Sunday. The Suns started sluggishly against the Spurs, but Booker scored 18 points in the opening quarter to keep the game close.
“I just respect (the Spurs) to the highest level,” Booker said. “I understand the level that they compete at and especially the level that they play at here in San Antonio. I just wanted to be aggressive from the start.”
Booker was 18 for 33 from the field and 5 for 13 on 3-pointers in eclipsing his previous high of 38 points, which he collected twice.
“Shoot, it’s been like that for a while,” Paul said of Booker’s hot start. “I think it’s probably because we’ve got a team that’s so supportive and we enjoy seeing each other do well. So, when we he gets it going like that, we try to feed him and then we still make the right play. For us, it’s all about ultimately winning the game.”
Phoenix was without injured starter Deandre Ayton, but reserve center Bismack Biyombo responded with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
“We needed some rebounding,” Williams said. “They were kicking our butt. Now Jalen (Smith) can rebound, but they had some guys down there that can move you around a little bit. I thought Bis would give us a bit more girth down with Poeltl and Jock Landale.”
Cameron Johnson was also key, scoring four of his eight points in a crucial stretch midway through the final quarter.
Johnson had a steal, which led to a contested layup that gave Phoenix a 103-98 lead with 7:44 remaining. Johnson made two free throws a minute earlier to put the Suns up 99-98.
The Spurs had three turnovers in a two-minute span beginning with Johnson’s steal as the Suns took command late.
Phoenix outscored San Antonio 34-16 in the fourth quarter.
“They’re a very good team,” Spurs forward Keldon Johnson said. “They were in the championship last year. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times with some bad turnovers.”
The Spurs had their regular starting lineup together for the first time since Dec. 23. A return to familiarity sparked a fast start, as San Antonio took a 28-20 lead with every starter scoring at least three points.
The Spurs starters all finished in double figures, accounting for 84 points.
Suns: Phoenix’s last loss in San Antonio was Jan. 29, 2019. ... Ayton sprained his right ankle Sunday in the first quarter of Phoenix’s 135-108 victory over Detroit. Ayton had six points in eight minutes before exiting. His status is day-to-day. ... Johnson returned after a three-game absence due to a sprained left ankle. ... The Suns are 21-7 against Western Conference teams, second only to Utah (19-4). ... JaVale McGee had six points and eight rebounds while starting in place of Ayton. McGee is averaging 10.2 points and 6.9 rebounds for the Suns.
Spurs: San Antonio assistant Becky Hammon was not at the game after being placed in the league’s health and safety protocols due to COVID-19. ... Tre Jones missed his seventh straight game while in the league’s health and safety protocols. ... The Spurs are 9-17 against the West. ... Bryn Forbes is averaging 13.3 points in his previous 10 games, raising his season average to 9.1 points. The Spurs have seven players averaging double figures this season.
Suns: At Dallas on Thursday.
Spurs: Host Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
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