Devin Booker scored 23 of his 27 points in the first half and the visiting Phoenix Suns took care of business with a lopsided 140-103 win against the short-handed San Antonio Spurs on Saturday afternoon in the penultimate game of the regular season for both teams.
The win allowed the Suns (50-21) to keep pace with idle Utah (51-20) in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference. If Phoenix defeats the Spurs on Sunday afternoon in the second game of their back-to-back and Utah loses at Sacramento, the Suns will win the conference as they own the tiebreaker with the Jazz.
The Spurs (33-38) have already clinched the final spot in the play-in tournament and cannot improve their standing. San Antonio will play either Memphis or Golden State on the road on Wednesday.
Mikal Bridges added 18 points for the Suns, with Chris Paul scoring 16 and dishing out 10 assists. Dario Saric hit for 13 points and Cameron Payne had 12 for Phoenix. Deandre Ayton (left knee soreness) was held out for the Suns.
Keldon Johnson and Gorgui Dieng scored 18 points each to lead the Spurs while Drew Eubanks added 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Devin Vassell hit for 14 points.
The Spurs, who have not had back-to-back nights off in a month and a half, decided to rest two of their starters, DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. Five other players, including Dejounte Murray (back) and Rudy Gay (heel), were reported as injured.
Phoenix jumped on the Spurs early, leading by 17 points at the end of the first quarter. San Antonio made a mini-run midway through the second quarter, cutting the deficit to 49-39, before the Suns picked up the pace again, heading to halftime up 68-47.
Booker hit for 23 points over the first 24 minutes to lead all scorers while Bridges added 14 in the half for Phoenix. Johnson had 16 points for the Spurs at intermission.
The Suns opened the third quarter with an 11-0 run that all but settled things. Phoenix emptied its bench in the fourth quarter to rest its starters for Sunday’s crucial game.
San Antonio also played without coach Gregg Popovich, who attended the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony that will include the induction of Spurs legend Tim Duncan.
–Field Level Media