The Phoenix Suns have been one of many hottest groups within the NBA over the past month.
Phoenix seems to make it 14 wins in its previous 17 video games when it faces the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night time in Minneapolis.
Ayton matched Booker for team-high scoring honors with 22 factors on Friday because the Suns opened a three-game highway journey with a 106-97 conquer the Chicago Bulls.
It was Ayton’s first 20-point effort since scoring a season-high 27 factors in an additional time loss to the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 22, however he has produced 18 double-doubles this season.
A part of his stable play stems from being pushed, prodded and inspired by Paul.
“You noticed his means to protect smaller gamers,” Suns coach Monty Williams. “Even when a man made a shot, it was a tricky, powerful shot. He was a power within the paint. That is an indication of progress — he is studying a ton from Chris. All of that’s going to make him a greater participant and extra seasoned.”
Ayton is averaging 14.3 factors and a team-leading 11.7 rebounds. He’s third in scoring behind Booker (24.9) and Paul (16.6).
Booker has topped 20 factors in 10 straight video games and 15 of the previous 16. His 9-of-24 taking pictures effort towards the Bulls equated to his third-lowest proportion (37.5) of the season.
However he has scored 30 or extra factors on 5 events this month because the Suns heated up. Phoenix had topped 120 factors in 5 straight video games and 7 of eight previous to falling wanting that complete towards Chicago.
Bench gamers Frank Kaminsky (15 factors) and Cameron Johnson (eight) additionally offered a lift.
“It is such a luxurious to have, however we count on that,” Paul mentioned of the contributions of the bench. “We speak about it on a regular basis — we’re one of many few groups within the league that has a bench that is available in they usually’re mainly starters.
“That is why we’re a crew. We choose one another up on any given night time and it is nice to be part of.”
Minnesota has misplaced a season-worst seven straight video games for the second time throughout a dismal season. It owns an NBA-worst 7-27 file.
The Timberwolves accomplished a winless four-game highway journey with a 128-112 loss to the Washington Wizards on Saturday for his or her thirteenth setback previously 15 video games.
Minnesota allowed 74 second-half factors towards the Wizards and has given up a whopping 400 factors — a median of 133.3 — in its first three video games beneath coach Chris Finch, who changed the fired Ryan Saunders.
The Timberwolves led by 4 factors within the third quarter earlier than being blitzed 35-12 over a 7 1/2-minute stretch to fall behind by 19.
“When groups make a run on you, you have to battle again,” Finch mentioned. “We’ve to be taught to be somewhat extra resilient.”
Karl-Anthony Cities recorded 23 factors and 11 rebounds and Anthony Edwards added 21 for the Timberwolves.
Edwards, the primary general choose of the 2020 NBA Draft, has scored 21 factors in every of the previous two video games whereas making simply 16 of 42 pictures. And over the previous six video games, he has hit on simply 29.5 p.c (28 of 95) of his field-goal makes an attempt.
“He is received to proceed to grasp what the sport is giving him,” Finch mentioned of Edwards. “Each time he went downhill and received to the rim, they actually could not cease him.
“He is sort of simply on the market enjoying proper now. He does not have a plan of assault. That is regular. That is one thing that can occur for him hopefully because the season unfolds and for positive going ahead.”
Saturday’s contest was Minnesota’s first with out taking pictures guard Malik Beasley, who was suspended 12 video games by the NBA attributable to his responsible plea for making threats of violence towards a household final September. Beasley is averaging 20.5 factors per recreation.
Josh Okogie moved into the beginning lineup and had 12 factors on 5-of-7 taking pictures.
–Area Stage Media