The Phoenix Suns have played two straight games without injured point guard Chris Paul.
They may be line to be without Paul again on Monday when they visit the Miami Heat.
Paul, who leads the Suns in assists (9.4) and steals (1.7), is listed as day-to-day with a sore right heel. His presence was surely missed on Friday night, when the Suns dropped a 114-97 decision at the Orlando Magic.
The Suns shot just 40.0 percent from the field, and the Magic made 52.4 percent of their shot attempts.
Without Paul, Suns star Devin Booker made just 6-of-19 shots against Orlando.
“You can’t win an NBA game if you can’t put the ball in the basket,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said.
The other issue for Suns so far is that their 2-3 road record pales in comparison to their 6-1 home mark.
Booker averages a team-best 26.7 points per game, is making 38.4 percent of his 3-point attempts, 86.8 percent on free throws and 47.5 percent on field goals overall.
Deandre Ayton is averaging 14.5 points and leads the Suns in rebounds (7.3).
Mikal Bridges is the Suns’ second-leading scorer (15.7). He is shooting 44.1 percent on 3-pointers, 88.6 on free throws and 55.5 percent from the floor overall.
Cameron Payne is another key Suns player to watch as he starts when Paul sits. For the season, Payne is averaging 12.1 points and 3.7 assists.
However in his two starts with Paul as a spectator, Payne is averaging 22.5 points and 6.0 assists.
Miami, just 5-4 at home this season, is coming off of two straight wins over the visiting Charlotte Hornets.
Heat guard Tyler Herro has missed three straight games due to a sprained left ankle. But in Miami’s 132-115 win over the Hornets, Max Strus stepped up in place of Herro and scored 31 points.
“I got it going early,” said Strus, who fell one point shy of his career high. “My teammates were looking for me.”
The Heat, who have struggled for much of this season, might have found something in Saturday’s win. They shot 52.7 percent from the floor, including 16 of 41 from 3-point range (39.0 percent).
In addition to Strus, who was 8 of 14 on 3-pointers, the Heat also received 24 points from Bam Adebayo and 20 points each from Jimmy Butler and Gabe Vincent.
Butler and Kyle Lowry each had eight assists for Miami.
“I liked the way our flow was going offensively,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Adebayo, who added a game-high 15 rebounds and four assists, was also pleased.
“I feel like this is the way we’re supposed to play,” Adebayo said.
Butler leads Miami in scoring (22.1) and assists (6.1). He also ranks second in rebounds (6.5).
Adebayo leads the team in rebounds (9.1) and ranks third in scoring (18.2). Strus is fourth in scoring (15.5), even though he has started only six of his 13 games.
Lowry is averaging 13.0 points and ranks second on the team in assists (5.8).
–Field Level Media