The Phoenix Suns and the word contender being meshed together has not yet become in vogue this season. Perhaps, that time is drawing closer.
Led by 35 points from Devin Booker, the Suns did something not many teams have been able to do of late..conquer the Blazers in 'Dame time'.
Trailing by four points heading into the fourth quarter, you would have been forgiven for assuming Lillard would do his thing and Portland would take the win, but instead, a 37-27 period from Phoenix ensured they improved to 17-2 over their last 19 and 25-11 overall.
Now just two games back from the Utah Jazz in first place, the Suns are officially the hottest team in the league.
Booker makes statement
Withdrawing from the All-Star game with a left knee strain, the star guard showed no signs of the ailment in this one.
Scoring from all three levels, he finished 12-for-21 from the floor, 3-for-5 from three and 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.
Checking into the game with 5:39 left and the Suns holding a 109-104 lead, Booker went to work, scoring nine points down the stretch. The outburst included jumpers from the midrange and beyond the arc, as well as a pair of free-throws in the final 90 seconds.
In the period where it's normally Lillard doing the damage, Booker shut the door on a potential comeback.
A great way to start the second half.- Phoenix Suns (@Suns) March 12, 2021
100th career 30-point game!
Congrats, @DevinBook! #BeLegendary pic.twitter.com/V1Mt1qpHVK
Sizzling hot Suns shooting
A balanced scoring attack has been a feature of Phoenix basketball of late, with tonight no exception.
Aside from Booker, six other Suns' players registered double-digit scoring, with Chris Paul leading the pack with 19 points to go along with five rebounds and seven assists.
As a team, Monty Williams squad finished a red-hot 49-for-83 (59.0 percent) from the field and 13-for-24 (54.2 percent) from three.
So clutch. pic.twitter.com/20eskFsYXT- Phoenix Suns (@Suns) March 12, 2021
The Suns are now eighth in the league for offensive efficiency (114.1 points per 100) and tenth for 3-point percentage (38 percent). With performances like tonight, they will only continue to climb in those ranking.
Kanter continues to fill the stat sheet
With the Blazers suffering from longterm injuries to CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, depth has been tested to the extreme.
Stepping up as he did in a prior stop with the franchise, Enes Kanter is delivering on both ends. Not know for his defence typically, the big man has been competitive of late, while putting up huge numbers on the box score.
🌪️ @eneskanter 🌪️ pic.twitter.com/cPiTrqa3Oc- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) March 12, 2021
Finishing with 16 points and 11 rebounds against the Suns, Kanter registered his sixth straight double-double. It is also the 19th time in the last 21 games he has reached double-digits in rebounds, highlighting his impact on the glass.
Terry Stotts wouldn't have expected Kanter to be playing such a critical role at this part of the season, but credit to the 28-year-old, he is a big reason why the squad remains in the hunt for home court in the Western Conference first round.
Both teams will have one night off. The Blazers will head on the road to face the Minnesota Timberwolves, while the Suns will host the Indiana Pacers.