Suns bounce back without Devin Booker, Chris Paul to rout Trail Blazers


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Even without their All-Star backcourt, the Phoenix Suns are a heavy load to handle.

Cam Johnson scored 20 points, Deandre Ayton added 18 and the Suns became the first NBA team to 50 wins this season by easily beating the Portland Trail Blazers 120-90 on Wednesday night.

“It feels good,” Johnson said. “Fifty is a big benchmark in this league, but now we want to get to 60.”

It is certainly a good possibility. The Suns only need to go .500 the rest of the regular season to reach 60 wins.

Phoenix won this one without starting guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Paul has been out since Feb. 16 with a broken thumb and could miss the rest of the regular season. Booker was placed under the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols on Wednesday, but the Suns were unflinching.

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Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) and Portland Trail Blazers forward Trendon Watford battle for the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Phoenix.
(AP Photo/Matt York)

“We know how to adapt,” Ayton said.

Johnson was 6 of 8 from the field and Ayton 9 of 12 to help Phoenix end a two-game skid and break a tie with Golden State for the NBA’s best home record at 27-7. Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder each added 15 points, with Bridges shooting 6 of 9.

Brandon Williams had a career-high 14 points for Portland. The exhausted Trail Blazers have lost three straight since the All-Star break — all by at least 30 points — and fell to 25-37. They shot just 38.5 percent from the field and were injured in 19 turnovers.

Portland is adjusting to a revised roster after a busy trade deadline. The Trail Blazers are without injured star Damian Lillard, and they traded their other top-performing guard, CJ McCollum, to New Orleans.

“My biggest concern is just trying to get some continuity with our new guys and the guys we had here,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said. “That’s the most important thing for me. The problem is that it’s hard to rush this. You have to get it when it comes and keep snacking on it.”

The Suns led the entire second half and retired late in the third quarter, taking a 92-69 lead in the fourth. They finished with 32 assists.

“We were moving the ball,” guard Cameron Payne said. “We played well. We just have to keep going.”

Phoenix trailed early in the second quarter but rallied for a 63-48 halftime advantage. Bridges and Crowder both scored 13 points for the Suns, while Johnson added 11. Anfernee Simons led the Trail Blazers with 11 points before the break, but failed to score in the second half.

TRIBUTE TO MCCOY

The Suns honored radio announcer Al McCoy, in his 50th season with the franchise. His first show was on September 27, 1972, during a pre-season game, and he’s been a fixture on the sidelines ever since.

The 88-year-old has called three NBA Finals, in 1976, 1993 and 2021. The Suns paid their respects on the video card, with messages from former stars like Steve Nash, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Johnson and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

ADVICE

Trail Blazers: Portland had a long inactive roster that included Lillard, Eric Bledsoe, Joe Ingles, Nassir Little, Didi Louzada, Jusuf Nurkic and Justise Winslow. … Had 12 turnovers in the first half.

Suns: Payne returned after missing 16 games with a sprained right wrist. He finished with five points and eight assists in 20 minutes. … G Landry Shamet made his eighth start of the year, replacing Booker. He had 12 points. … Hosted a sold-out crowd for 19th consecutive game. … Everyone on the Suns’ active roster has scored. Six players were in double figures. … Crowder tied a career high with five interceptions.

FOLLOWING

Trail Blazers: In Minnesota on Saturday and Monday nights.

Suns: Host the New York Knicks on Friday night.


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