CLEVELAND – Devin Booker scored 35 points, Chris Paul had 12 assists and made four free throws in the final 8.8 seconds, and the Phoenix Suns extended their winning streak to 14 games by fending off the Cleveland Cavaliers 120- 115 Wednesday evening.
The Phoenix run began with a victory over Cleveland on October 30, after a season 1-3 start for the defending Western Conference champions. The Suns have been perfect ever since and improved the NBA’s best road record to 7-1.
It was not easy.
The young Cavs gave the Suns everything 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.
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.
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. .
Phoenix’s winning streak is the third longest in club history, tying 14 players for the club in 1992. The Suns won 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 one shot and then burying a 3-point pointer to shoot the Cavs to 105-104 with 3:49 remaining.
Cleveland matched Phoenix’s firepower in the tight opening 24 minutes and led 66-61 at halftime after scoring eight 3-pointers in the Cavs first half this season. There were 10 changes of leaders and 11 draws at half-time.
Booker dropped his first eight shots – and barely one grazed the rim – while scoring 24 points in the first half.
Suns: Forward Mikal Bridges played his 245th straight game to start his career, the league’s longest active streak. Forward Abdel Nader (injury management), who underwent arthroscopy of his right knee on April 26, missed his third game in a row. Forward Frank Kaminsky (right knee stress reaction) has missed five straight games. Forward 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’re going in the right direction. ” Shorthanded for most of the season, Cleveland still misses rookie center Evan Mobley (sprained elbow), guard Collin Sexton (season-ending knee injury) and attacking Lamar Stevens (sprained ankle).
Suns: will continue their four-game trip to New York on Friday against the Knicks.
Cavaliers: Host the Orlando Magic on Saturday.