Suns’ Booker: ‘We have a target on our back’

With 8:50 left in the second quarter, the Cleveland Cavaliers(3-4) had a 14-point lead (42-28) on Saturday night. However, the Suns closed out the half on a 22-4 run to take a 50-46 lead into halftime, sparking what would go on to be a 50-12 run.

Phoenix(2-3) opened up the second half outscoring Cleveland 28-8 to take a 78-54 lead with 4:15 remaining in the third quarter, and they defeated the Cavaliers 101-92 at Footprint Center.

Devin Booker scored a game-high 27 points to go along with nine assists, seven of which came in the first half, and Chris Paul had his third double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 assists. Before exiting in third with a right leg contusion, Deandre Ayton tallied 17 points and a team-high 12 rebounds.

Before this game, Phoenix was winless(0-2) at home and on a two-game losing streak, but they busted out in the second quarter and never looked back.

“I think we were probably just on a string a little bit more,” Paul said about the 50-12 run. “Communicating a little bit better, and I think that helps everything—our offense, our defensive intensity picked up everything.”

Cam Johnson, who scored 10 points on Saturday, added about the 50-12 run: “We think we’re capable of that all the time. You keep your head down, keep pushing, keep trying to get better, keep trying to get back to high-level championship basketball. I think we’ve got a good team, good guys that always stick together, and that period of the game showed it. We can still obviously be so much better. If we went on that part 50-12, then what do we do the rest of the game? Cleaning all that stuff up going forward is going to be big for us.”

For the Cavaliers, who were on the second game of a back-to-back after losing to the Lakers on Friday night, fatigue might have been an issue, according to Kevin Love, who had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

“I feel like you could tell by the way that we shot it, pretty much across the board, that we were pretty fatigued,” Love said. “I don’t think we’ve shot the ball well from three all year; a number of us haven’t, me included. Fatigue played a big part in this, and I think you have to tip your hat to them; they were very hungry for the win. That’s a really good team down there in the other locker room.” 

The Cavs are now 2-2 on their five-game road trip.

Last season, Phoenix snuck up teams and ultimately became Western Conference champions, but now, they can’t sneak up on anybody, which Booker discussed postgame.

“We have a target on our back,” Booker said. “People watched what we did last year and probably have something to prove, so you’re not going to catch anyone off guard, and you’re going to get everybody’s best. It’s going to be a great crowd anytime you come to Phoenix, and people get hyped up for that, and we need the same energy.”

Best of the Rest:

-With 10 assists tonight, Chris Paul now has 10,328 in his career and is seven assists away from passing Mark Jackson (10,334) for fourth on the NBA’s all-time career assists list and eight away from passing Steve Nash (10,335) for third on the all-time list.

-Cedi Osman scored a game-high 20 points for Cleveland tonight, knocking down six three-pointers on 12 attempts. It marked Osman’s 24th career game of 20+ points and the first this season. His six three-point field goals matched a career-high, which he’s now done three times in his career, all on the road.

What’s Next:

Suns continue their five-game homestand on Tuesday night against former friend Willie Green and the Pelicans, and the Cavaliers finish their five-game road trip on Monday against the Hornets.

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