LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Devin Booker scored 27 points, Deandre Ayton added 24 points and 12 rebounds and the Phoenix Suns beat the Washington Wizards 125-112 on Friday in their first game of the restart.
Booker made all nine of his free throws and Phoenix hit 30 of 32 from the line.
The Suns pulled within five games of eighth-place Memphis in their long-shot bid to make the Western Conference playoffs.
”I liked everything,” Booker said. ”We were communicating. We played together … and communicated through tough stretches of the game just as much as when we were rolling. So that’s what I love to see.”
Ayton, a 6-foot-11 center who hadn’t made a 3-pointer in 101 career games, hit two of three from beyond the arc.
”I’ve been working on this thing my whole life though,” he said. ”I could have been shooting. It’s just that I’m more comfortable with the system around me.”
Ayton made 11 of 14 shots overall.
Dario Saric added 16 points for the Suns, who shot 52% from the field.
Rui Hachimura had 21 points and eight rebounds and Jerome Robinson added 20 points for the Wizards on coach Scott Brooks’ 55th birthday.
Brooks said Robinson’s performance was a bright spot.
”Offensively, I thought he played a little bit at the right pace,” Brooks said. ”He has some good speed. He has some ball-handling ability.”
The Wizards entered the bubble without their top two scorers, Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans. Beal, the league’s No. 2 scorer at 30.5 a game, is out with a shoulder injury. Bertans doesn’t want to risk injuring his surgically repaired knees with free agency upcoming. Also, John Wall has missed the entire season with a torn Achilles tendon.
Still, Washington began the restart just 1 1/2 games out of earning a play-in situation.
Phoenix went on a 16-0 run in the second quarter and led 67-52 at the break. Washington scored the first seven points of the second half, but Phoenix held on and led 89-81 at the end of the third quarter.
Washington made a final push. Shabazz Napier hit a 3-pointer and was fouled with 4:26 remaining. His free throw cut Phoenix’s lead to 111-104. The Suns answered, with back-to-back 3-pointers by Booker and Ricky Rubio pushing the advantage to 15.
Ayton, on the tone set with the win: ”It was a great look for us to see what we’ve got, see what we can be. Us trying our best to see where we end up, trying to compete every game. We’re just going to go game by game, not settling for mediocre.”
Robinson fell one point short of his career high for the Wizards. He made 7 of 9 shots, including 4 of 6 3-pointers.
”Shooters shoot,” he said. ”I was open, so I shot it.”
The Suns made all 21 of their free throws in the first half. … It was Monty Williams’ 200th head coaching win.
Suns: F Kelly Oubre was out with a right knee injury. … Ayton had 10 rebounds in the first half. … Booker had a +25 plus/minus rating. … Rubio had 15 points, nine assists and three steals.
Wizards: G Garrison Mathews was out for personal reasons. … Robinson scored 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting in 13 minutes in the first half. … Ish Smith hit a deep 3-pointer to beat the first-quarter buzzer. … C Thomas Bryant had 10 points and seven rebounds on his 23rd birthday.
Suns: Play the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
Wizards: Play the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
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