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Booker scores 32 points and Suns never trail in steamrolling Spurs 131-106

  • AP
  • Mar 23, 2024

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Devin Booker scored 32 points before sitting out the fourth quarter and the Phoenix Suns never trailed in steamrolling the San Antonio Spurs 131-106 on Saturday night to help their playoff positioning.

“He was first-class Devin Booker tonight,” Phoenix coach Frank Vogel said. “He was scoring, he was passing. In complete control of the game. Really strong performance by Book.”

Kevin Durant added 25 points for Phoenix, which never trailed and led by as many as 32. Bradley Beal had 13 points and a season-high 12 assists.

Victor Wembanyama had 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot in 21 minutes as San Antonio lost its third straight and eighth in 10 games. Keldon Johnson had 14 points.

Phoenix shot 59.6% in winning their eighth straight in San Antonio.

“I thought we had a little more contact and physicality in the second half, but you’re not going to stop Book and K.D. from doing what they’re doing and Bradley’s healthy now,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “That’s a pretty tough trio. Our guys did everything they could, and you move on.”

The Suns have won three straight to improve to 13 games above .500 for the first time this season. The surge comes at an opportune time as Phoenix (42-29) is a half-game ahead of Dallas (41-29) for the sixth and final automatic playoff berth in the Western Conference.

“This is what we have been working for and toward all season,” Booker said. “I think the timing is right. It’s the meat of the season and it’s time to lock in and get prepared for postseason.”

Phoenix has a rematch with San Antonio on Monday as the Spurs conclude a season-high eight-game homestand. San Antonio has won just once during that stretch.

The Spurs (15-56) must win five of their last 11 games to avoid finishing with the worst record in franchise history – 20-62 in 1997. Of San Antonio’s remaining opponents, only Utah, Memphis and Detroit are currently not in the playoffs or play-in tournament.

Any chance the Spurs had of ending their skid diminished quickly.

“That’s what you want them all to look like when you get an early lead,” Vogel said. “To keep your foot on the gas and play the third quarter the way we did and go for a knockout punch, which we did.”

San Antonio opened the game shooting 4 for 17 from the field and had four turnovers.

To make matters worse, Booker had 12 points while shooting 5 for 9 from the field in the opening quarter.

Booker then opened the second half with consecutive 3-pointers as Phoenix took its biggest lead at the time at 70-47.

“I think it’s just everybody,” Booker said. “I think team defense, we found a rhythm and that directly translates to the offensive side of the ball. You don’t want to get complacent. We have a lot to work on, but we are taking steps in the right direction.”

The Suns, which came in averaging 117 points per game, had six players score in double figures. Bradley Beal and Bol Bol had 13 points each.

“It’s just simply switching up who initiates the ball sometimes,” Durant said. “Switching up who we want to be the scorer one play, who is setting the screen one play. We are all versatile players that can do everything on the offensive side of the floor. We utilized that and we played off one another. … It was a good flow tonight.”

After besting Bol in a jump ball, Wembanyama smoothly drained a 25-foot, step-back 3-pointer that trimmed the Suns’ lead to 36-24 with nine minutes remaining in the first half. Wembanyama had 11 points, four rebounds, two assists and a block, but the Spurs trailed 65-47 at the half.

Wembanyama finished 5 for 7 from the field.

“It’s a team effort with him,” Durant said. “You can’t guard him one on one. He’s a load. He’s tough.”

Booker and Durant, who received a bottle of wine from Popovich after the game, both sat out the final quarter. Booker and Durant played for Popovich and won a gold medal with Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics.

San Antonio is 5-19 in back-to-backs, including 2-10 in the second game.

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1234Taway team logo Suns 42-2926393828131home team logo Spurs 15-5617302435106

Frost Bank Center San Antonio, TX

TOP SCORERS
D. Booker SG32PTS7REB9AST
K. Johnson SF14PTS4REB1AST
team logo

Suns

STARTERSPTSREBASTPFMIN
D. Booker3279330
K. Durant2544031
B. Beal13112128
G. Allen821125
J. Nurkic6103421
BENCHPTSREBASTPFMIN
B. Bol1341319
E. Gordon1201322
D. Eubanks1031118
T. Young42205
R. O’Neale440015
N. Little20115
D. Roddy21205
J. Okogie01119
I. Thomas
D. Lee
U. Azubuike
I. Wainright
S. Lee
Total131393818233
team logo

Spurs

STARTERSPTSREBASTPFMIN
V. Wembanyama1354020
T. Jones1015021
J. Sochan732021
J. Champagnie422124
D. Vassell233023
BENCHPTSREBASTPFMIN
K. Johnson1441124
B. Wesley1213218
Z. Collins1131319
S. Mamukelashvili113008
M. Branham703121
D. Graham62208
C. Osman541118
D. Barlow43008
R. Gray
J. Bouyea
S. Cissoko
C. Bassey
D. Duke Jr.
Total10634279233