Preview: Heat look to get back in win column in Phoenix
TV: FOX Sports Sun (South Florida)
TIME: Coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. ET
PHOENIX — Devin Booker became the fourth-youngest player in NBA history to reach 3,000 points Monday night.
The Suns want to find ways to permit him do more, perhaps a necessity now that they finally found a taker for point guard Eric Bledsoe.
On Tuesday, the Suns (4-7) sent Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks for veteran big man Greg Monroe and two draft picks, protected first- and second-rounders in 2018.
The Miami Heat (4-6) will be the next team to test Booker and the Suns, who played without Bledsoe for the last eight games after his, “I Dont wanna be here,” tweet on Oct. 22.
Booker scored 18 points Monday in Phoenix’s 98-92 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
“Everybody’s defense is going to focus on him,” Suns interim coach Jay Triano said. “I have to come up with better plays to try to get him looks. Big guys got to set better screens. …
“San Antonio did the same thing (Sunday) night, and it wears him down having to work so hard to get the basketball. We have to be continuously looking at different ways to try to get him easy touches.”
The Heat enter after a 97-80 loss at Golden State, and they have their own personnel issues. Center Hassan Whiteside barely played in the second half Monday, finishing with three points and six rebounds. The Heat already were playing without guard Dion Waiters, who was home to attend to the birth of a child.
Miami’s veteran leaders spoke to Whiteside after the game.
“This is one game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He understands how important he is to our team to play at a high level, high energy level, so we’ll move on to Phoenix and look to have a much better game.”
Booker, 22, joined LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony as the youngest to 3,000 with a first-quarter jump shot Monday. He is leading the Suns with a 21.6 scoring average.
“My dream my whole life was to play in the NBA,” Booker said. “Once, I got here, I realized I wanted to leave a mark, so every time I go out there I try to think back to those days when I was a little kid and wanted to be successful in this league.
“I’m trying to do it, and trying to get wins along with it.”
The victories have not come as easily as the points. The Suns have lost their last three games, although they have shown progress under Triano, going 4-4 since he was promoted to replace Earl Watson on Oct. 22.
“We are going to have a problem with consistency throughout the year,” veteran Jared Dudley said after the loss to the Nets. “It’s a young team that is trying to battle. We’ve done that, we’ve improved.
“Since Jay took over, we might have had one or one-and-a-half practices. We’ve had a lot of games, and there is only so much you can go over, so much film you can do. I think he’s a done great job so far. I just think that we need to ride this stretch before next week beginning a couple practices and going over certain things that we need to go through on the defensive end.”
Monroe, 6-foot-11, averaged 6.8 points and 5.0 rebounds in five games while dealing with a calf injury this season. He has averaged double-digits points in the previous six seasons, at least 15 points in the first five of those.
Monroe will join a big-man crew that includes starting center Tyson Chandler and reserve Alex Len. Chandler is averaging 7.3 points and a team-leading 9.3 rebounds per game.