LOS ANGELES, Jan 17 — Devin Booker poured in a game-high 30 points before sitting out the final quarter as the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns routed the last place Detroit Pistons 135-108 on Sunday.
Booker played 30 minutes, making 11 of 18 field goal attempts while teammates Cameron Payne and JaVale McGee each finished with 20 points in front of a crowd of 18,100 at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena.
“I was just hitting shots and the guys were getting me the ball in good places,” said Michigan native Booker.
“I never got to see the Pistons play in person very often — I grew up about two hours west of here — so I love coming here to play what was my favourite team growing up.”
Booker invited 40-50 family and friends to the game on Sunday.
“Because of the pandemic, I didn’t get to have normal interaction with my family,” Booker said. “But at least I got to see them and I got to wave to a lot of friends.”
Landry Shamet added 11 points and Chris Paul chipped in 10 points with six rebounds and six assists for the Suns, who improved to 33-9 and have won six of their last seven contests. Mikal Bridges also scored 10 points in the win.
The Suns are also an NBA-best 16-4 on the road.
“We had two 39-point quarters, so we were obviously hitting shots,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “Detroit wears teams out by getting into the paint and getting to the line, and we were able to stay away from a lot of that.”
Pistons first overall draft pick Cade Cunningham was ejected after being slapped with two technicals during the third quarter.
The second was ruled “taunting” after he pointed at a Suns player after making a dunk. Cunningham finished with 21 points in 25 minutes of action.
Canadian Cory Joseph also had 21 points and added seven assists and Trey Lyles tallied 18 points and six rebounds.
Booker exploded for 21 points on nine-of-11 shooting in the first half as the Suns seized a 64-54 halftime lead.
He scored 15 points in the opening quarter before Phoenix blew the game open with a 10-4 run in the final three minutes of the second.
In Denver, Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points, Rudy Gobert returned to the lineup with 18 points and 19 rebounds as the Utah Jazz beat the Denver Nuggets 125-102.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 21 points, Jordan Clarkson had 16, Royce O’Neale finished with 11 and Eric Paschall scored 10 for Utah, who won for the first time in five games.
Gobert missed the last five games because of Covid-19 measures.
“I felt pretty good. Every time you play in Denver you’re going to get tired at some point,” Gobert said. “I got tired in the first and third quarter but I felt great, better than I usually do in Denver. Just grateful to be back.”
Elsewhere, Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 119-99 victory over the Golden State Warriors, who were missing injured star Stephen Curry.
Jaylen Nowell scored 17 points and Malik Beasley nailed five second-half three-pointers in the win.
Jordan Poole scored 20 points and Jonathan Kuminga had 19 points for the Warriors, who finished a four-game road trip.
Not only were they missing Curry with an injured right hand, but they also played without Draymond Green.
In Sacramento, Christian Wood posted his 20th double-double of the season as the Houston Rockets beat the host Sacramento Kings 118-112.
Wood had 23 points and 14 rebounds while Kevin Porter added 23 points and seven assists for the Rockets. — AFP