Kevin Durant made his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns home debut on Wednesday night, but it was Devin Booker who powered the Suns to their 41st win in a critical game for the Suns playoff chances.
The fourth quarter was low-scoring, highlighted by good Suns defense and just enough shotmaking to get out of this with the win.
The Wolves scored only three times in the last 6:15 of the game — all on long threes — as the Suns win 107-100.
Devin Booker was the player of the game, finishing with 29 points, 5 assists and 4 steals. Kevin Durant had 16 points. Chris Paul had 19 points, 6 assists and 2 steals.
The Suns are now 41-35, a half game up on the Clippers for 4th in West playoff picture
Of course the Suns first offensive possession was an isolation by Kevin Durant on the right block vs. a switched-on Anthony Edwards, and he came up short on a drive to the free throw line.
After that, the Suns used KD as a decoy for a few possessions, with Booker feeding Deandre Ayton for a alley-oop and Booker making a middy. The crowd got up for an Okogie steal and finish on the other end. Okogie is starting his first game against his former team. The Suns got out to a 6-2 lead.
But the Wolves fought back, taking a 12-10 lead on KAT three. Towns got a few open threes (drained two of four). Seven of the Wolves first 12 shots were behind the arc. Gobert added a couple of dunks. Timeout Suns. Those Wolves shots are just coming too easy. They also were getting too many offensive boards — 3 in the first 7 minutes.
Durant got his first rest after 6 minutes, with Torrey Craig coming in to take his place with the starters.
Booker took over for a minute, scoring 7 points in an 11-4 run to help the Suns take a 21-16 lead. Josh Okogie had the other 4.
Wolves went on an 8-2 run of their own to take the lead, with several backups in the game for both teams.
Suns led 25-24 after one, shooting 52% to the Wolves’ 40%, but allowing a whopping 7 offensive rebounds to the Wolves (to their 8 defensive), plus 11 three point attempts (to their 4).
Durant started the second quarter, still looking for his first bucket on his new Suns home floor. Three minutes later, he was still scoreless. Now 0-5. He hasn’t had an easy, open shot yet. Suns still lead 31-29.
Durant finally got a chance to score some easy points, driving for a shooting foul and getting the call for a pair of free throws.
Neither team could get more than 3 point lead through the whole second quarter and the Suns forced a Wolves timeout by taking a 44-41 lead with 2:38 left in the half, just to break any Suns momentum that might be building.
They tied it on a nice play to Towns open out of timeout, and then took a three-point lead on his next one.
Ayton missed a pair of driving shots at the rim, partly due to heavy Gobert contests.
Wolves take 51-48 lead at the half. Town had a huge half with 20 points and 8 rebounds AT HALFTIME, and the Wolves as a team have 33 rebounds already. Tough half for the Suns. Ayton has only 4 points. Booker and Durant only have 15 points on 20 shots. Suns shot only 29% in the second quarter.
The Suns opened the half in troubling fashion — at least where it comes to Booker. He threw a lazy pass that was stolen by Anthony Edwards, and gave up an easy layup on the next possession. 53-48 Wolves.
Ayton has been a non-factor in this game, and continues to be in the second half. He got beat for an offensive rebound and committed two quick fouls. A minute later, Booker got his third, while Conley made a three. Suns down 58-50. One loose ball later, Wolves get another hustle play and go up 60-50. Booker and Ayton both have 3 fouls. Timeout, Monty.
Then Book woke up. He drew fouls, made some shots and quickly the Suns were back in the game. He had the Wolves in the penalty halfway through the quarter.
Durant didn’t quite wake up, but he at least opened one eye, scoring 7 points in his 6-minute third quarter stint. His free throws with 4:57 left in the quarter put the Suns up 65-64. He was up to 10 points (3-13 shooting), 6 rebounds and 3 assists as of his third stint. Not a great game for him — he looks like he’s only played in 3 of the last 34 games, between the Nets and Suns.
After coming up short in the first half, the Suns Booker-led second unit went on a nice run to close the third quarter up 81-74. Booker had 12 in the quarter as the Suns outscored the Wolves 33-23 in the quarter (including 31-14 after the Wolves 9-2 start mentioned earlier).
The Suns opened the 4th with some poor defense, though, allowing an 10-3 run to the Wolves to tie the game. Edwards had 6 of the 10 points. Durant made a three on the next possession to put the Suns back up, giving him 16 for the game (5 for 18 shooting).
Devin Booker came back, in place of Durant, with a 90-87 lead and 7:36 left. Booker made a big shot, and Chris Paul and Torrey Craig hustled the Suns to a 97-91 lead two minutes later.
The game got ugly after that, with the Suns giving up five offensive rebounds on the next two defensive possessions alone but luckily the Wolves missed all of their shots, and Paul/Ayton pick and roll helped the Suns take a 99-91 lead with under 5 minutes left.
The Suns went to their closing lineup — Paul, Booker, Durant, Okogie and Ayton — with 3:21 left and a 5-point lead, 99-94.
Okogie was a manimal on defense.
Suns win, 107-100.
Six games remain for the Suns with their next game coming at home against the Denver Nuggets. Another big one.