New York Knicks guard Elfrid Payton, right, defends as Phoenix Suns centre Deandre Ayton (22) looks to pass during the first quarter in New York. Ayton and the Suns routed the Knicks 121-98. He scored 26 points, grabbed a career high 21 rebounds and dished out two assists. He also had two blocks.
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
By JEFFREY BERNSTEIN
NEW YORK (AP) — Deandre Ayton had 26 points and a career-high 21 rebounds, and the Phoenix Suns pounded the New York Knicks 121-98 last night.
The Suns shot 51 per cent (47 for 92) from the field and placed five players in double figures in their third win in four games. Devin Booker scored 29 points, and Ricky Rubio had 25 points and 13 assists.
Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, was 11 for 15 from the field in his 11th game this season. The 6-foot-11 centre played on opening night, and then served a 25-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug programme after testing positive for a diuretic. He sprained an ankle in his return to the lineup on December 17.
Julius Randle led the Knicks with 26 points. Marcus Morris Sr, who returned to the starting lineup after missing five games with a sore neck, had 17 points, and Mitchell Robinson finished with 12.
New York opened a 35-27 lead on Bobby Portis’ 3-pointer with 11:20 left in the first half. But Phoenix ripped off 28 of the next 37 points to go in front for good.
The Knicks pulled within four on Morris’ jumper early in the third before the Suns pulled away again. Dario Saric’s layup made it 79-66 with 6:40 left in the quarter.
Saric scored 11 points for Phoenix, which led by as many as 29 in the final quarter.
At 17-24, the Suns are off to their best 41-game start since going 23-18 in 2014-15. After 41 games last year, the Suns were 9-32.
Suns: Visit Boston on Saturday.