NBA Roundup: Suns use big third quarter to beat Knicks

NEW YORK (AP) — A 4-24 record didn’t discourage the Phoenix Suns, so a seven-point halftime deficit certainly wouldn’t.

The young Suns wiped away the second one, and insist they’ll keep chipping away at the first.

“We’re building,” guard Devin Booker said. “We’re getting better every game.”

Booker tied his season high with 38 points, T.J. Warren scored 17 of his 26 during Phoenix’s 41-point third quarter and the Suns beat the New York Knicks 128-110 on Monday night for their third straight victory.

Phoenix outscored New York 41-17 in the third and went on to win three consecutive games for the first time since March 2-5, 2017. The Suns won only four times in their first 28 games, but are 3 for 3 since.

Deandre Ayton finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Suns in an impressive start to a five-game road trip, their longest of the season. Jamal Crawford had a career-high 14 assists as last-place Phoenix improved to 2-13 away from home, toughening up in the second half after giving up 12 offensive rebounds in the first.

“Whatever it was, it was a completely different team in the second half,” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said. “We saw two different teams, understanding that if we rebound the ball we’re going to win the game.”

Booker just returned Saturday from a six-game absence with a left hamstring strain and scored 28 points against Minnesota. He was even better with a game under his belt, hurting the Knicks not only with his perimeter shooting but also by going 14 of 15 at the free throw line and grabbing seven rebounds.

Emmanuel Mudiay had 32 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Knicks, who lost for the seventh time in eight games. Rookie forward Kevin Knox scored 17.

“We were up in the first half and at halftime I think we got a little relaxed and thought the game was over and they were going to roll over for us,” said Knox, who had just four points in the second half. “But, that’s not what happened.”

New York played without leading scorer Tim Hardaway Jr. because of a sore right heel.

Mudiay came in averaging 18.5 points in his last eight games and was just about there by halftime, with 18 points. Knox had 13 and the Knicks were ahead 66-59.

Things changed quickly in the third quarter, when the Suns went 16 of 22 from the field — with one of the misses being a halfcourt heave as the buzzer sounded.

The game was tied at 79 after Mudiay’s layup but Warren nailed a long 3-pointer to ignite a 21-4 finish to the period. Warren had another 3 later in the run, and Crawford hit a couple of jumpers and had four assists, including an alley-oop pass to Richaun Holmes.

“The water was coming through the dam through so many holes,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “We didn’t show a lot of toughness during that run.”

With their 100-83 lead, the Suns kept up the pressure early in the fourth and quickly put the game out of reach.

Bucks 107, Pistons 104

DETROIT — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 32 points and 12 rebounds, and the Milwaukee Bucks held on for a victory over the Detroit Pistons when Blake Griffin missed a last-second 3-pointer.

Griffin actually missed two 3s in the final 14 seconds. The Detroit star already had a triple-double after three quarters, but it was a quiet fourth for him. Griffin finished with 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, but he also had 10 turnovers.

The Pistons rallied from a 15-point, third-quarter deficit and took an 89-86 lead in the fourth. Antetokounmpo put Milwaukee up by three with a dunk, then added a three-point play and a driving layup to make it 107-100.

Rockets 102, Jazz 97

HOUSTON — James Harden scored 47 points to help Houston hold off Utah for its fourth straight win.

It was the Rockets’ first victory over the Jazz this season after dropping the first two meetings. The team’s current winning streak comes following a three-game skid.

Houston led by double digits early in the fourth quarter, but poor shooting left the Rockets tied with about two minutes left. A 3-pointer by Harden put Houston back on top and he added two free throws with about a minute remaining to make it 99-94.

Under heavy pressure, Harden stepped back and hit a 3 to make it 102-97 with 13.3 seconds left.

Donovan Mitchell had 23 points for the Jazz, who have lost four of five.

Harden, who made 15 of 16 free throws, had six rebounds, five assists and five steals.

Warriors 110, Grizzlies 93

OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry had 20 points and seven rebounds to lead Golden State past Memphis.

Curry became the fifth player in Warriors history to score 15,000 points during the regular season — joining Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Paul Arizin and Chris Mullin.

Kevin Durant had 23 points and passed Larry Bird (21,791) for 33rd place on the NBA’s career scoring list. Klay Thompson added 16 points.

Golden State led by 25 in the second quarter in quickly turning the game into a rout. That allowed coach Steve Kerr to rest many of his regulars as the Warriors began a busy stretch with eight games before the end of the year.

Marc Gasol had 15 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Grizzlies, who lost their third straight and fifth in six games. Omri Casspi scored a season-high 20 against his former team.

Trail Blazers 131, Clippers 127

LOS ANGELES — Damian Lillard scored 22 of his 39 points in a dominant third quarter and Portland defeated Los Angeles.

Lillard hit five of his six 3-pointers in the third when the Trail Blazers outscored the Clippers 42-28. Portland was 10 of 20 from 3-point range in the game.

C.J. McCollum added 27 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 20.

Tobias Harris matched Lillard with a career-high 39 points and rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 24 for the Clippers, who have lost four in a row for the first time this season.

Spurs 123, 76ers 96

SAN ANTONIO — Rudy Gay had 21 points and LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan each added 20 as San Antonio defeated Philadelphia.

San Antonio bounced back after squandering a 21-point lead in a loss to Chicago on Saturday night.

The Spurs held an opponent under 100 points for the fifth straight game.

J.J. Redick and Ben Simmons each scored 16 points to lead the 76ers. Joel Embiid was limited to 13 points on 6-for-17 shooting and finished with 11 rebounds.

Aldridge added 10 rebounds and DeRozan had seven assists for the Spurs, who completed a 5-1 homestand.

Thunder 121, Bulls 96

OKLAHOMA CITY — Paul George scored 16 of his 24 points in the final five minutes of the first half and Oklahoma City rolled past Chicago.

George’s outburst came in the last 4:47 of the second quarter as the Thunder outscored the Bulls 23-7 and built a 64-44 lead at the break.

He scored just one point in the second half.

Russell Westbrook had 13 points, 16 rebounds and 11 steals for his 111th career triple-double.

Steven Adams added 19 points and Dennis Schroder scored 18 for the Thunder.

Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis had 16 points apiece to lead the Bulls. Markkanen added 15 rebounds.

Timberwolves 132, Kings 105

MINNEAPOLIS — Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 points and 14 assists in just 21 minutes, Andrew Wiggins scored 17 and Minnesota got a big boost from its bench in beating road-weary Sacramento.

Derrick Rose added 13 points and a season-high 11 assists while starting for injured point guard Jeff Teague.

Minnesota led by 36 in the first half against Sacramento, which was coming off a 120-113 victory at Dallas a night earlier.

The Timberwolves returned home following an 0-4 trip, including a 141-130 loss at Sacramento.

Buddy Hield scored 21 points for the Kings but didn’t play in the second half.

Sacramento coach Dave Joerger didn’t play any of his starters after halftime.

By Paul Wager

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