Deandre Ayton tied a career high with 35 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Phoenix Suns held on for a 116-112 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night in New York.
Ayton made 14 of 18 shots as the Suns won for the ninth time in 11 games. He also converted a tiebreaking three-point play with 3:54 remaining in the third quarter, and Phoenix never trailed again although it sweated out a shaky final minute.
Mikal Bridges added 21 points and Devin Booker contributed 19 in his return from a groin injury as the Suns withstood another scoring spree by Brooklyn’s Cam Thomas. Cameron Johnson chipped in 14 points and Chris Paul handed out 12 assists for Phoenix, which shot 46.7 percent from the field.
Thomas scored 43 points after pouring in 47 and 44 in his previous two games. He became the first player in franchise history with three straight 40-point games and scored 13 of his points in the fourth.
Deandre Ayton powers to the rack for the and-one 💪
He’s got 31 PTS and 13 REB as the Suns lead on TNT. pic.twitter.com/2lEDR4I8vR
— NBA (@NBA) February 8, 2023
At 21 years, 117 days, Thomas became the youngest player in NBA history to score at least 40 points in three straight games.
Nic Claxton collected 17 points and 13 rebounds, and T.J. Warren also finished with 17 points for the Nets.
The Nets fell to 5-9 without Kevin Durant and held out new acquisitions Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith after obtaining them from Dallas for Kyrie Irving Monday. Both players took physicals before the game and are expected to play Thursday against Chicago.
Phoenix opened its first double-digit lead when Bridges sank an uncontested corner trey with 8:35 left in the third. The Nets scored 12 straight points to take a 67-65 lead on a 3-pointer by Joe Harris with 6:09 left before the Suns took an 87-81 lead into the fourth.
A basket by Johnson opened a 96-83 lead with 9:27 left and the Nets countered with a 12-2 run to get within 98-95 on a jumper by Warren with 5:52 remaining. Ayton’s three-point play pushed the lead to 105-95 with 3:36 left, and his putback dunk with 54.6 seconds to go made it 111-103.
The Nets were within 112-109 when Thomas reached 40 points with a layup with 11.3 seconds left. Thomas hit two free throws with 7.7 seconds to play to make it a 112-111 game and, following two free throws by Paul, then split two free throws to snuff Brooklyn’s chances.
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