The Phoenix Suns will shoot for their eighth consecutive victory on Wednesday when they complete a three-game road trip with a matchup against the Toronto Raptors.
The Suns kept their streak alive Sunday when Devin Booker sank a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left to defeat the New York Knicks 116-113.
“It’s a shot that I’ve imagined in my head multiple times,” said Booker, who wound up with 28 points on 10-of-25 shooting. “So it felt like I’ve been there before.”
The Suns will be catching the Raptors on the second half of back-to-back games. Toronto lost 115-103 to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday in New York to finish their NBA in-season tournament schedule at 1-3.
Phoenix went 3-1 in tournament group play, advancing to a quarterfinal game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
With Suns forward Kevin Durant (sore right foot) not playing on Sunday, the onus was on Booker at crunch time in New York.
“Tried to get one close, but it felt good,” said Booker, who also handed out 11 assists in the victory. “It felt like a clean shot.”
“Unreal,” Suns reserve big man Drew Eubanks said. “Over two guys, get to his spot. I knew that was going in.”
Suns coach Frank Vogel added, “It’s Devin Booker, man. The guy is coldblooded. I know he’s one of the best clutch players in the world, so it’s fun to be on the right side of that.”
The Suns took Monday off and practiced Tuesday in New York.
Phoenix is 7-0 since Booker returned after he was sidelined for five games due to a right calf strain.
“He’s our leader,” Vogel said. “There was a lot of talk when Chris (Paul) left about what the leadership structure was going to look like, and he’s really taken that thing and run. It’s been really natural to him. Hasn’t been forced, hasn’t been anything other than, ‘It’s my time.'”
Toronto’s time ran out in the fourth quarter on Tuesday, when the Nets outscored the Raptors 39-28. Scottie Barnes finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Raptors in the defeat, while Pascal Siakam scored 17 points and added 10 rebounds.
“I thought in the first half Scottie was settling quite a bit,” Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic said. “He was taking some mid-range shots. We talked about it at halftime. He played a completely different game in the second half. So much more force.”
Toronto’s Gary Trent Jr. tied the game at 94 on a jumper with 4:30 remaining, but the Nets gradually pulled away.
“We want to be more of a free-flowing team, playing with really good spacing and creating open chances for each other,” Rajakovic said on Monday. “We’re constantly watching and showing guys on the film: ‘That’s a tough, contested, off-the-dribble shot without any ball movement, we don’t want those.’
“We work so hard on the defensive end to get a stop (and do not want) to just go in (isolation) and take tough shots early in the shot clock. We need to go with ball movement, we need to be aggressive, we need to touch the paint. If the ball is kicked out and you have a wide-open shot, you’re an NBA player, you have to be ready to shoot those shots.”
Durant and teammate Grayson Allen (illness) are listed as questionable for the Wednesday game. Nassir Little will miss the contest, as he returned to Phoenix for the birth of his first child.
The teams split two-game series each of the past two seasons.
–Field Level Media