San Antonio (USA), May 15 (EFE) .- The Hispanic guard Devin Booker scored 27 points this Saturday and topped a list of seven players who had double-digit numbers in the 140-103 away victory over the decimated San Antonio Spurs, who also did not have coach Gregg Popovich on the bench.
The victory allowed the Suns (50-21) to continue in the fight for the first place in the Western Conference and the best record in the league that now belongs to the Utah Jazz, who need to win the game that remains of the regular season they want to get to the playoffs with home court advantage.
The Suns need to win this Sunday, when they face the Spurs again, and for the Jazz to lose if they want to reach first place, since in the tiebreaker they favor them by having swept the season series between both teams.
The Suns were without starting center, Bahamian Deandre Ayton, due to injury, but gave no one Saturday.
Forward Keldon Johnson had 18 points as the leader of the Spurs, who are 10th in the Western Conference and are assured of a place in the play-in tournament of the playoffs.
The opponent who will have the field advantage for the play-in game will be the Memphis Grizzlies, current ninth, or Golden State Warriors, eighth.
The Suns were never behind the Spurs and led by 42 points against the largest fan turnout this season at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
The Spurs honored Tim Duncan’s induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with a series of video tributes and the unveiling of his Hall of Fame jersey on the rafters of the AT&T Center.
Popovich, missed the game to attend Duncan’s induction ceremony. It was the first time Popovich had not served as head coach since a personal matter led to his absence on March 3, 2020.
Duncan, who was an assistant coach at the time, was the head coach during Popovich’s absence that day. Spurs first-year assistant Mitch Johnson took over as head coach on Saturday.
San Antonio was limited to a nine-player roster with DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl all sitting down to rest, plus injuries to Derrick White, Luka Samanic and Trey Lyles.
Phoenix quickly took advantage, building a double-digit lead in the first four minutes. The lead increased to 21 points midway through the second quarter.
The Suns had eight players who scored at least eight points and were able to seat their starters in the fourth quarter.
Phoenix forward Mikal Bridges had 18 points in 26 minutes and veteran point guard Chris Paul added a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists in 25 minutes.
The Spurs scored just 4 of 26 3-point attempts as they suffered their third straight loss and ninth in the last 11 games.
Senegalese center Gorgui Dieng had 18 points, power forward Drew Eubanks added 15 points and guard Devin Vassell added 14 as Spurs’ top scorers.
(c) EFE Agency