SPURS guard Dejounte Murray (5) shoots over Suns centre Deandre Ayton, left, during the first half last night in Phoenix. Ayton posted 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a block but he had five turnovers in 35 minutes. (AP Photo/ Ross D Franklin)
PHOENIX (AP) — Chris Paul had 21 points and 10 assists, Jae Crowder added a season-high 19 points and the Phoenix Suns held off the San Antonio Spurs for a 108- 104 win last night.
The ageless Paul had multiple highlights in the final few minutes, helping the Suns become the first team to 20 wins this season.
The 36-year-old Paul made his presence felt on defence with a stellar play, poking the ball away from a driving Dejounte Murray, who was about to score on a fast break with 1:30 left that would have cut the Phoenix lead to one point.
Instead, the ball deflected off Murray and out of bounds. The 11-time All-Star added a 16-foot jumper seconds later while being fouled. Paul converted the free throw for a three-point play and a 108- 102 lead.
Phoenix was playing its first game since having its franchise-record 18-game winning streak snapped against Golden State on Friday. The Suns didn’t appear fazed by the setback and won for the 19th time in 20 games dating to October 27. The Spurs had their 4-game winning streak snapped. All five San Antonio starters scored in double figures, led by Murray’s 17 points. Bryn Forbes added 15 points off the bench.
The Suns pushed ahead by 16 points late in the third quarter, but settled for a 79-70 lead going into the fourth. The Spurs chipped away at the lead until Doug McDermott made a 3-pointer with 6:10 left that tied it at 88-all.
It stayed tight from that point forward though the Suns never trailed. Cam Johnson — who had 13 points — made a corner 3-pointer with 1:10 left that pushed them ahead 103-97. JaVale McGee also had 13 points off the bench. The Suns trailed for the majority of the first half, but used a late push to take a 51-48 lead at halftime.
Phoenix had 32 points in the paint before the break, led by 10 each from Ayton and McGee. Jakob Poeltl had 10 points and six rebounds for the Spurs.
Spurs: G Devin Vassell (right quad) didn’t play. ... Backup F Drew Eubanks didn’t play in the first half but had eight solid minutes in the second half. He had four points and four rebounds.
Suns: G Devin Booker (left hamstring strain) missed his third straight game. F/C Frank Kaminsky (right knee) and F Abdel Nader (right knee) also weren’t available. ... The Suns missed their first seven 3-point attempts before Cam Payne knocked one down early in the second quarter.
Spurs: Begin a five-game homestand against the Knicks tonight.
Suns: Host the Celtics on Friday.