The Phoenix Suns have been seeking a consistent third scorer behind Devin Booker and Chris Paul. The answer seems to have been right in front of them all along.
Deandre Ayton continues to impress for the Suns, who carry a 10-game winning streak into Friday’s matchup against the visiting Dallas Mavericks. The streak is the Suns’ longest since the 2009-10 season.
The teams opened a two-game set in Phoenix on Wednesday, when Ayton led the Suns to a 105-98 victory with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Dallas has lost its last seven meetings against Phoenix and struggled down the stretch on Wednesday without star guard Luka Doncic. The Mavericks last defeated the Suns in November of 2019.
“The guys played hard, gave us a chance to win on the road against the Western Conference champs,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “Everyone in that locker room executed the game plan. We just missed some shots down the stretch and they didn’t.”
Doncic missed the Wednesday contest with sprains to his left knee and ankle, and he is listed as doubtful for Friday. Dallas’ Maxi Kleber (oblique) will not play at Phoenix.
The Mavericks face another tough test against a Suns team that has not lost since opening the season with a 1-3 mark.
Ayton has been outstanding since missing five consecutive games with a right lower leg contusion. The fourth-year pro has 100 double-doubles in 186 career games, which is the quickest to that mark in franchise history.
“He’s just a specimen,” Suns forward Jae Crowder said. “He has a good body, he moves well for a guy his size, he just has all the tools you need to dominate the game.”
Ayton played 36 minutes on Wednesday while backup center Frank Kaminsky sat out due to knee soreness. Kaminsky is averaging 10.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 20 minutes per game.
Phoenix has been searching for more production from reserves Landry Shamet and Cam Johnson, and the pair delivered Wednesday by combining for 17 points.
Booker is averaging a team-high 23.0 points for the Suns, who reached the NBA finals last season. Phoenix has held its last four opponents under 100 points and is playing some of its best basketball late in games.
“Mental stamina is something that I see from our guys,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “We’ve had a number of situations in the fourth quarter where a team makes a run, or they take a lead, and we come to the bench and our guys are in the same mode as if it was the first quarter.”
Dallas began a four-game road trip on Wednesday and will ask guard Jalen Brunson to assume a greater role again if Doncic is forced to miss his second straight contest.
Brunson scored 18 points in 37 minutes on Wednesday and is averaging 15.3 points while shooting 50 percent from the field.
The Villanova product has scored in double figures in eight consecutive games, including a career high-tying 31 points in a victory at San Antonio on Nov. 3.
Kristaps Porzingis is also off to a strong start for the Mavericks. The 7-foot-3 forward has been on a tear since missing five games due to lower back tightness, averaging 22.8 points and 8.8 rebounds in his last six games.