CLEVELAND – With the Suns’ long winning streak in grave danger, Devin Booker and Chris Paul knew exactly what to do.
Phoenix’s season is still up.
Booker scored 35 points, Paul had 12 assists and made four free throws in the final 8.8 seconds, and the Suns extended their winning streak to 14 games by fending off the Cleveland Cavaliers 120-115 on Wednesday night.
Phoenix’s streak began with a home win over Cleveland on Oct. 30, after a season 1-3 opener for the defending Western Conference champions. The wave also matched allegations of racism and misogyny against Suns owner Robert Sarver.
“It’s just a coincidence,” Paul said of the timing. “Our plan was not to start 1-3. We have a great group, a great locker room. I have never seen anything like it.
For nearly a month, the Suns won in various ways and on Wednesday they improved the NBA’s best road record to 7-1.
It was not easy.
The young Cavs gave the Suns all they could handle, and without Paul, a few calls that could have gone both ways and Cleveland’s Ricky Rubio missing three free throws in the dying seconds, the streak could have ended.
The win was also the 100th with the Suns for coach Monty Williams, who is in his third season with the club.
“We know we can win ugly games,” said Williams. “We know we can win slug outs. I wish we could win by 30 every night. But they have a very good team. We are just looking for ways to win.
Jarrett Allen had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Cedi Osman added 23 points for Cleveland, which lost its fifth straight. Darius Garland scored 19 before committing a late foul.
Paul finished with 17 points and JaVale McGee added 13 points and 12 rebounds in 20 minutes on the bench.
Williams pointed out a key streak on the stretch when Mikal Bridges blocked Osman and Paul made Garland bite a rip-off move for his sixth staff.
“The most important thing was to get him out of the game because he’s so sneaky,” Paul said. “When I’m at home he’s one of the guys I love to watch.”
The Cavs were still 117-114 when the Suns fouled Rubio with 6.5 seconds left. The veteran point guard, getting more time with top scorer Collin Sexton for the year, split the pair and Cleveland was forced to foul Booker.
The Suns star was also only one of the two and Phoenix put Rubio back on the line. He missed two more, the second on purpose before Paul sealed him with two free throws with 3.8 seconds left. .
“Stay in the moment,” Paul said of his ability to stay calm in times of pressure on the line. “I’ve missed a ton in my career too. “
Phoenix’s winning streak is the third longest in club history, tying 14 players for the club in 1992. The Suns had 17 straight wins in the 2006-07 season.
Leading by just one point after three, the Suns outscored the Cavs 13-4 to start the fourth and open a 100-90 lead with 6:56 remaining.
However, Phoenix couldn’t pull away as Osman kept Cleveland close by scoring nine straight runs in a single stretch and then burying a 3-point pointer to shoot the Cavs to 105-104 with 3:49 remaining.
“For 48 minutes we were there,” Osman said. ” This is what we do. We are in competition. “
Suns: Bridges played his 245th straight game to start his career, the league’s longest active streak. … F Abdul Nader (injury management), who underwent arthroscopy of his right knee on April 26, missed his third game in a row. … F Frank Kaminsky (right knee stress reaction) has missed five straight games. … F Dario Saric (right knee surgery) last played in the 2021 NBA Finals opener.
Cavaliers: In some ways, Cleveland has shaped its rebuilding after the rise of Phoenix by writing thoughtfully and supplementing the roster with clever free agent signatures. “That’s our goal,” said coach JB Bickerstaff. “To achieve the things they’ve done and build like they sort of built it. We are heading in the right direction. … Shorthanded for most of the season, Cleveland still misses rookie F Evan Mobley (elbow sprain), Sexton (season-ending knee injury) and G Lamar Stevens (ankle sprain).
TO LOOK LIKE
Due to his length and athleticism, Mobley, who won’t be back until next month and got off to a fabulous start, has drawn comparisons with Chris Bosh, among others.
The 20-year-old reminds William of a young Anthony Davis.
“They’re both long and graceful, if that makes sense,” said Williams, who spoke to Cavs coach Bickerstaff about the No. 3 overall pick ahead of the season. “He can play basketball and he’s light on his feet.
“When I saw him pass with his left hand, that’s what showed me what kind of playmaker he can be. Be careful to put him in this box because he’s his own player and he’s phenomenal.
Suns: will continue their four-game trip to New York on Friday against the Knicks.
Cavaliers: Host the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.