Booker’s season-high 41 points power Suns past Knicks
PHOENIX (AP) — Devin Booker predicted a big night for himself. And, he was right.
Booker made 14 of 23 shots, including six of 10 3-pointers, and the Suns (15-51) took over after a slow start in a matchup of the teams with the NBA’s worst records.
“I said a different number and I didn’t get there,” Booker said, trying to hold back a grin. “I just felt good. There was a cool vibe in the arena.”
Kelly Oubre Jr. added 18 points and Tyler Johnson 14 for the Suns, who have won three straight. DeAndre Jordan led the Knicks with 17 points, and Noah Vonleh, Damyean Dotson and Dennis Smith Jr. added 15 each.
Jordan was back in the starting lineup for his first game since Feb. 22. The veteran center who missed the past five contests with a sprained left ankle put together his highest-scoring game as a Knick while adding 14 rebounds in 25 minutes.
The Suns made just six of 20 first-quarter shots and missed all seven 3s. But back-to-back dunks by Richaun Holmes trimmed the Knicks’ lead to three at 23-20.
New York went ahead 35-24 on Allonzo Trier’s jumper at the 6:47 mark.
The Suns responded with an 18-4 run to take their first lead, with Booker’s steal and dunk giving them a 40-39 advantage with 4:14 to go in the second quarter. Booker scored 23 points in the first half, 16 in the quarter.
“I keep saying after every game, every game is a new test for us and we’re moving in the right direction,” Booker said. “Started out slow today, but we brought it together when we needed it.”
The Suns took a 49-47 lead into halftime, and extended their lead in the third quarter. A 3 from Oubre made it 69-58, and Oubre’s layup and free throw gave the Suns a 76-62 lead.
“Just mentally we caved in for whatever reason,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “Most of it was carelessness. Lack of focus on execution.”
Holmes, given more minutes with starting center Deandre Ayton in foul trouble, rolled to the basket and threw down a pass from Troy Daniels for a 78-62 advantage with 53.4 seconds left in the third quarter. Holmes had four dunks on the night.
“We found a way to turn it on, starting with defensive stops, and we knew the offense would come,” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said.
The Suns took an 81-64 lead into the fourth quarter, and were never threatened by the Knicks over the final 12 minutes.
“We tried everything. We tried trapping him, we tried switching against him,” Fizdale said of Booker. “One of those 3s he hit, he was standing next to me on the sidelines about 30 feet out.”
KNICKS: Fizdale’s pregame comments, on his team playing the Suns: “Two desperados, fighting for crumbs on the table. That’s really what it is.” … A made basket by Dotson was taken off the scoreboard with 7:01 left in the first quarter, reviewed almost three minutes after the shot and ruled to be a shot clock violation. … C Mitchell Robinson blocked three shots, two in the third quarter.
SUNS: F T.J. Warren missed his 17th straight game with ankle soreness. … The Suns evened the all-time series between the two teams at 64 wins each. … With a steal in the first quarter in which he wrestled the ball from Vonleh, G Mikal Bridges has a steal in 20 straight games, the longest active streak in the NBA.
Knicks: Return home to host Sacramento on Saturday.
Suns: At Portland on Saturday night, the first of a back-to-back set that will also take them to Golden State.