MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Devin Booker scored a season-high 40 points, Eric Gordon added 20 and the Phoenix Suns beat the Memphis Grizzlies 110-89 in an NBA season-opener Friday.
Jordan Goodwin and Grayson Allen finished with 14 points each for the Suns, who played without leading scorer Kevin Durant, a late scratch due to right foot soreness. It was the Suns’ sixth straight victory, a streak that began when Booker returned from a calf injury.
“It’s powerful,” Booker said of Durant’s absence. “Maybe you can’t change what he brings to court. His scoring potential. Its versatility in protection. It’s going to take a lot longer for everyone.
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Devin Booker, season high 40 PTS ‼️
Phoenix received the W to improve its match-in-season Wildcard possibilities 👀 pic.twitter.com/hpceoR9EPp
-NBA (@NBA) November 25, 2023
Santi Aldama led Memphis with 21 points, while Derrick Rose added 17, while missing just one of his nine shots. David Roddy contributed 14 points as the Grizzlies lost their third straight game and remained winless at home this season.
The victory gave Phoenix a 3-1 record in the tournament, but left the team one game behind the Lakers, who won West Group A with a 4-0 record. The Suns should now wait to see how the various West teams perform to see who qualifies for the event’s wild card spot.
Phoenix was led by 18 on Friday. Memphis chipped away at the advantage, cutting it to single digits in the second half, but the Suns always seemed to have an answer. Goodwin scored eight straight points for the Suns in the fourth quarter to keep the Grizzlies at bay.
“He was great,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said of Goodwin. “He’s had his ups and downs this year. We gave him a hard time getting higher on both sides of the ball. … He had a few periods where he struggled to make his shots. So seeing it all come together for him was a perfect evening.
Memphis, which is 0-7 at home, still faces 10 more games for the return of last year’s leading scorer, Ja Morant, who is serving a 25-game suspension.
Memphis’ injury record, which includes six rotation players, is dire enough that the NBA gave the Grizzlies a pair of tough 10-day contracts to sign guards Shaq Harrison and Jaylen Nowell. These signings were announced earlier on Friday. Nowell and Harrison played sparingly Friday and neither scored.
And the absences intensify the problems, especially on a night when Memphis’ two leading scorers — Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. — combined for fewer than 19 points, six from Bane who was 3 of 12 from the field and missed his five 3. -point attempts, and 13 points from Jackson.
“We just need to be more on the same page,” Jackson said. “Once you go through our bodies, everything is even more crucial. You probably can’t make small mistakes. You can’t make small mistakes that you might make if you had every individual with all your weapons.
Additionally Durant, key Suns rotation players Bradley Beal and Drew Eubanks also missed the game.
But the Suns had Booker, who finished the game 15 of 21 from the field, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.
“The man is just a talented scorer,” Vogel said. “He’s a huge reason why we have this six-game winning streak.”
TO FOLLOW FOR THE SUNS AND GRIZZLIES
Suns: Travel to New York to face the Knicks on Sunday.
Grizzlies: Entertain the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.
NBA: Devin Booker’s 40 points lead the Suns ahead of the Grizzlies
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