NBA regular season

No Kevin Durant yet, but Devin Booker, Suns skip past Pacers


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No Kevin Durant yet, but Devin Booker, Suns skip past Pacers

TEAM EFFORT. Suns hotshot Devin Booker dribbles as Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin defends.

Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

A day removed from acquiring Kevin Durant in a blockbuster trade, the Suns lean on a balanced scoring effort to dispose of the Pacers

All five Phoenix starters scored in double figures and the visiting Suns never trailed en route to a 117-104 win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday, February 10 (Saturday, February 11, Manila time) in Indianapolis.

Phoenix came into Friday’s contest a day removed from acquiring Kevin Durant in a trade that sent Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and Jae Crowder to Brooklyn. 

The 10-time All-NBA honoree Durant was not available to play against the Pacers, but the Suns did not need him with a balanced scoring effort and stifling defense overwhelming struggling Indiana.

Chris Paul scored 19 points and dished 9 assists, while Devin Booker – appearing in just his second game since leaving the Suns’ Christmas Day game less than five minutes in – went for 21 points and 5 assists.

Deandre Ayton scored a game-high 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor and grabbed 11 rebounds. Josh Okogie scored 17 points, and Torrey Craig complemented his game-high 12 rebounds with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field.

Ish Wainright added his second consecutive double-figure scoring performance coming off the bench – and second double-figure scoring game all season – with 13 points.

Bennedict Mathurin came off the bench to score a team-high 22 points in the Pacers’ third consecutive loss and 14th defeat over the last 16 games.

Tyrese Haliburton scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor, but he passed for less than half of his league-leading assists average of 10.3 with 5. Andrew Nembhard led all players with 10 assists, but he went scoreless on 0-of-5 shooting.

Phoenix faced little resistance in securing its 10th win over the last 13 games. A 16-2 scoring run midway through the first quarter gave the Suns an early cushion, then a 12-5 surge over the final 4:40 of the second quarter snuffed out an Indiana rally that cut the gap to 6 points.

The Phoenix lead never dipped into single digits in the second half and swelled to as many as 26 points.

Indiana went on a mini-run late to pull within the final margin of 13 points, but no closer.

Overall, the Suns held Indiana to 36-of-85 from the floor and had the Pacers below 40% field-goal shooting until the late fourth quarter. –

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