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Two of NBA’s hottest teams meet as Suns battle Mavs

Sportsnaut
Jan 17, 2022; San Antonio, Texas, USA;  Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) backs into San Antonio Spurs guard Devin Vassell (24) in the second half at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 17, 2022; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) backs into San Antonio Spurs guard Devin Vassell (24) in the second half at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns look to complete a perfect five-game road trip when they visit the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.

Phoenix captured the past three games by an average of 19.7 points, including a 121-107 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.

Star guard Devin Booker poured in a season-best 48 points against the Spurs and averaged 37.7 over the past three contests.

Booker is the biggest reason why the defending Western Conference champions possess a league-best 34-9 record and are 7-1 in their past eight games.

“I did the points with losses, and that’s not it,” Booker said. “I just try to win basketball games. That trumps everything.”

Booker made five 3-pointers as part of an 18-of-33 shooting performance at San Antonio while falling just shy of his fourth career 50-point outing. He also had six assists, five rebounds and three steals.

It was the 12th time this season Booker scored at least 30 points.

Phoenix point guard Chris Paul isn’t the least bit surprised at Booker’s frequent explosive nights.

“I think it’s probably because we’ve got a team that’s so supportive and we enjoy seeing each other do well,” Paul said. “So, when he gets it going like that, we try to feed him and then we still make the right play. For us, it’s all about ultimately winning the game.”

Phoenix also received a big effort from backup center Bismack Biyombo, who posted season highs of 17 points and 14 rebounds in 25 minutes.

Biyombo got increased minutes because starter Deandre Ayton was sidelined with an ankle injury. Ayton also has been ruled out against the Mavericks.

The Suns beat Dallas twice in a November back-to-back in Phoenix and have won the past eight meetings and 15 of the past 18.

Mavericks star point guard Luka Doncic missed both November games due to knee and ankle injuries.

Doncic is coming off a strong game as he poured in a season-best 41 points Wednesday in Dallas’ 102-98 win over the visiting Toronto Raptors, his 10th career 40-point effort. He also matched his season high of 14 rebounds and contributed seven assists and four 3-pointers.

“I just got to keep working and keep trust in my shot,” Doncic said in a postgame television interview. “Not every day is going to go the way I wanted, but you just have to keep trusting your shot.”

The victory was the fourth in a row and 10th in the past 11 games for Dallas.

It also was the Mavericks’ sixth straight home win. Dallas is 3-0 on a five-game homestand.

A prime reason for the Mavericks’ solid play has been improvement on defense. Not only has Dallas held nine of its past 12 opponents under 100 points but it has held the opponent under 50 percent shooting from the field in 22 consecutive games.

The Mavericks limited Toronto to 38.5 percent shooting from the field, including 8 of 32 from 3-point range.

“Our defense has been great,” Doncic said. “We’re 10-1 our last 11 games and it’s been because of our defense. Offensively, we just shared the ball and kept everybody involved. I would say our defense is the key.”

Kristaps Porzingis (18 points) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (16) also scored in double digits for Dallas on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media