Sports

Devin Booker pours in 45 as Suns beat Bulls


FILE PHOTO: Feb 14, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) smiles on the court during the second half against the Orlando Magic at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Booker scored a season-high 45 points on 17-of-24 shooting, and the Phoenix Suns held on for a 121-116 win over the visiting Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

Chris Paul contributed 19 points and 14 assists for Phoenix, which has won four games in a row and seven of its past eight. Dario Saric scored 16 points off the bench.

Nikola Vucevic finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who dropped their fifth consecutive game. Thaddeus Young (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Lauri Markkanen (16 points, 10 rebounds) also notched double-doubles.

The Bulls pulled within 115-112 with 52.8 seconds remaining but could not get any closer. Phoenix firmly held its lead in the final minute with a driving layup by Booker and four free throws by Paul.

The Suns carried a 94-86 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Chicago trailed by as many as 16 points during the third quarter after a jump shot by Mikal Bridges put Phoenix on top 81-65 with 7:40 remaining. The Bulls rallied with a 15-4 run to cut the deficit to 85-80 with 2:40 to play in the quarter.

The gap remained at five points when Cameron Johnson drilled a 3-pointer to extend the Suns’ lead to eight points with 24.4 seconds to go in the third quarter.

Phoenix built a 67-58 lead heading into halftime. Booker had 22 points to lead all scorers at the break.

Chicago opened a seven-point advantage in the first four minutes. Markkanen had a dunk and a three-point play during the early outburst that put the Bulls ahead 13-6.

The Suns bounced back to lead by as many as five points late in the first quarter. A driving layup by Saric put Phoenix on top 39-34 with 3.8 seconds remaining in the period, but Denzel Valentine quickly answered by burying a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds to go for the Bulls.

By halftime, Phoenix had increased its lead to nine. Deandre Ayton received an alley-oop pass from Booker and converted with a dunk to cap a red-hot half for the Suns.

Bulls guard Zach LaVine (sprained right ankle) did not play. He leads the team in scoring at 27.5 points per game.

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