NBA: Booker gem as Suns eclipse Mavs; Bucks end Cleveland streak

AFP , Thursday 25 Jan 2024

Devin Booker produced another high-scoring gem to help the Phoenix Suns notch a seventh-straight victory on Wednesday as Milwaukee shrugged off the sacking of coach Adrian Griffin to end Cleveland's unbeaten streak.

Devin Booker
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) handles the ball as he works against Dallas Mavericks guard Josh Green (8) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. Photo: AP

 

Booker, who scored 52 points in a victory over New Orleans last Friday, finished with 46 points in a 132-109 Phoenix rout of the Dallas Mavericks in Texas.

The talented point guard made six-of-10 three-pointers and finished with seven rebounds and three assists.

Booker was backed by 20 points from Bradley Beal while Grayson Allen had 15 and Kevin Durant 12.

Luka Doncic led the Dallas scoring with 34 points, including four three-pointers, but the Mavericks were left ruing a second half collapse after leading by as much as 16 in the second quarter.

The game pivoted on a devastating Phoenix performance in the third quarter, with the Suns outscoring their hosts 43-20, Booker contributing 22 of those points.

"The team started playing for me," Booker said of his third quarter display. "Passes were on-time and on-target; I just finished the job by making the shots."

The win leaves Phoenix on 26-18, occupying fifth place in the Western Conference.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, the Milwaukee Bucks showed no sign of the turmoil gripping the franchise as they blew past the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers 126-116.

Milwaukee shocked the rest of the NBA on Tuesday after abruptly firing head coach Griffin mid-season despite the team having one of the best records in the league. Griffin is set to be replaced by former Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers.

With Griffin gone, it was left to assistant Bucks coach Joe Prunty to take charge of Wednesday's home game with the Cavs, who had thumped Milwaukee 135-95 a week ago and arrived in Wisconsin on the back of an eight-game winning streak.

'It's not easy'
Prunty looked on approvingly as Milwaukee superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo bagged a 35-point triple-double, with 18 rebounds and 10 assists to fire the Bucks to victory.
Damian Lillard was also in blistering form with 28 points, while Khris Middleton added 24. Donovan Mitchell led Cleveland with 23 points.

"Really proud of what we did and accomplished tonight," Prunty said after the win, admitting that the sudden dismissal of Griffin had been challenging.

"It's not easy," Prunty said. "But you do have a job to do and that's something we talked about as a team.

"We still have responsibilities and roles and jobs that we have to do on the court. So you just do -- you move forward but it's not easy. It's a tough situation."

Antetokounmpo meanwhile admitted he was still adjusting to Griffin's dismissal.

"It's tough," Antetokounmpo said. "You build a relationship with people, then all of a sudden -- boom! They're not here.

"We're human. And him not being here, it hurts. But at the end of the day we've got to keep moving forward."

In San Antonio, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's 32 points sparked Oklahoma City's blowout 140-114 rout of the Spurs.

Six Thunder players finished in double figures as San Antonio slumped to their 36th defeat of the season despite another encouraging performance from coveted rookie Victor Wembanyama, who finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.

The Thunder head the Western Conference alongside the Minnesota Timberwolves, who returned to form after back-to-back losses with a 118-107 road victory over the Washington Wizards.

The Timberwolves had been upset 128-125 by the lowly Charlotte Hornets on Monday in a game that saw Karl-Anthony Towns score 62 points in a losing effort.

A third-straight loss never looked on the cards against the Wizards on Wednesday as the Timberwolves pulled away for a comfortable victory.

Anthony Edwards led the Wolves' scoring with 38 points while Towns had another solid night with 27 points, six rebounds and three assists. Frenchman Rudy Gobert delivered a big defensive performance with 16 rebounds.

In other games on Wednesday, the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Miami Heat 105-96, while the Portland Trail Blazers downed the Houston Rockets 137-131 in overtime in Texas.

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