Consecutive wins for Deandre Ayton and Suns

Suns centre Deandre Ayton (22) reacts after a basket and a foul against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second half on Saturday.

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Suns centre Deandre Ayton (22) reacts after a basket and a foul against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second half on Saturday. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)


Tribune Sports Reporter


WITH a roster in a state of flux and their top scorers back from injuries, Deandre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns scored consecutive wins for the first time this season.

Ayton finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds in the Suns’ 107-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday night.

He posted 10 points and five rebounds in the fourth quarter alone. Clinging to an 85-84 lead in the fourth, the Suns went on an 11-0 run, highlighted by Ayton’s traditional three-point play.

Devin Booker returned to the lineup and scored 28 points after missing six games with a hamstring injury. He shot 10-16 and added seven rebounds and seven assists in 36 minutes.

The Suns remain the bottom feeders in the Western Conference, now 6-24 on the season.

“We never play in a game to lose,” Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov said. “We play every quarter to win and give our best, everything we have. ... We are going to try to keep playing well, playing together as a team, and then anything happens after that.”

On Thursday, the Suns won 99-89 over the Dallas Mavericks in a matchup of two of the 2018 Draft’s top overall picks, again at Talking Stick.

Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick, scored just seven points on 3-13 shooting with five rebounds while Dallas’ Luka Doncic - the No. 3 pick - had 13 points, six assists, five rebounds and four turnovers.

The Suns welcomed TJ Warren back to the lineup and he finished with 30 points en route to the win.

Phoenix beat the Mavericks for the seventh straight time and the Suns have just five wins this season, and two have come against Dallas. The Mavericks were beaten in the season opener 121-100, also in Phoenix. Both games were late tipoffs on national television. Phoenix was up by 10 at halftime and as many as 15 in the third quarter.

The Suns last won two in a row on December 26-29, 2017.

Phoenix, one of the youngest teams in the NBA, have expectations of their No.1 pick who has been heavily scrutinised in the media in recent weeks.

Ayton said he considers the leadership from Booker and Josh Jackson as tools to improve his game.

“We had some serious talks to where he [Jackson] says he wants the best for me and hearing stuff like that as a rookie coming in you know guys have your back and you want to have theirs,” Ayton said. “So during the games it’s more of yelling than teaching but I get it. I get his message and he’s a great guy. I’ve been knowing him for a while and I’m just glad I’m on this team with him.”

Booker and Ayton got into a much publicised dispute following a blowout loss to the Portland Trailblazers, but both players have since downplayed the dispute.

“There’s a lot of great bigs in this league that know our coverages,” Ayton said. “Playing against DeAndre Jordan, this man knew every play, knew where I was going and Book just teaches me how to really finesse it, how to encounter certain things and the defence thrown at us. So all of it is tough love and all the guys want to compete and win so I’m just being a sponge right now.”


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