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Practice Notes: Warren to return as Suns head into another back-to-back

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T.J. Warren will return Monday, while the status of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are less clear. Gulp.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

As the Suns near their fourth back-to-back of the season and enter the thick of the regular season, facing opponents for the second and third time and (ideally) developing chemistry for the second half of the year, injuries continue to hold them back.

T.J. Warren expects to play Monday

The fifth-year forward said at practice Sunday his right ankle feels better and he expects to rejoin the lineup Monday as the Suns host the Clippers. He also explained the injury first happened against Indiana on Nov. 27 but played the next game against the Clippers before an MRI showed bruising on the ankle.

Asked what he could help with returning to a team that lost all five games in his absence, Warren said, “just do what I do. Be aggressive.” He added effort has been inconsistent during the losing streak.

As for Monday’s Clippers game, coach Igor Kokoskov noted Warren will likely see limited minutes in his return.

Devin Booker still not very close

Though the Suns’ starting point guard was on the court after practice going through a light shooting drill, coach Igor Kokoskov said Booker was a limited participant. Booker still had a thick, padded brace on his leg as he recovers from a nagging left hamstring injury.

“He didn’t do much today,” Kokoskov said. “He won’t be available tomorrow, that’s for sure.”

Judging by Booker’s limited participation in practice to this point after missing five games already, he is unlikely to return Tuesday in San Antonio, either. Fortunately, the Suns finish the week at home with games on Thursday and Saturday, so Booker will be rehabbing in a comfortable environment.

Deandre Ayton sickness ongoing

Ayton did not practice today after being taken out of the starting lineup Thursday in Portland with an upset stomach and a case of inconsistent effort. He was not at practice Sunday either.

“I spoke with him this morning on the way into work,” Kokoskov said. “He spoke with Nellie (head trainer Aaron Nelson) also, so I’ll check on his status this afternoon, I hope he’s going to play tomorrow but he just didn’t feel right.”

Another back-to-back ahead

Having just played a turnaround in Portland and Miami last week, the Suns face another tough trip to San Antonio immediately after hosting the Clippers. “We’re throwing everything we have,” Kokoskov said.

“There’s no different strategy. We can’t be selective when it comes to effort, when it comes to prep.”