Sports

Ayton dominates in win for the Suns

DeAndre Ayton looks like he has taken it up another level in the young season as he recorded season-highs of 26 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Phoenix Suns (8-5) to a 109-103 win over the Houston Rockets (4-9) at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, in National Basketball Association (NBA) regular season action on Wednesday night.

In addition to those season-highs, the big man finished with a career-high five blocks on the defensive end.

Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield finished with 13 points as the Sacramento Kings (5-10) could not keep up with the Los Angeles Clippers (11-4) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, also on Wednesday night. The Kings were blown out, 138-100. Hield and the Kings are spiraling out of control as they have now lost four games in a row and it was their sixth loss in seven tries. The shooting guard finished the night on 5-for-12 shooting from the field, shooting 41.9 percent. He went 3-for-7 from deep. He also had three steals, three assists, two rebounds and a block.

Ayton finished the game shooting 11-for-15 from the field, shooting 73.3 percent. He added three assists and was 4-for-4 from the free throw line.

Ayton started the night going 5-for-5 from the field including a perfect 4-for-4 in the first half. He had 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks at the half and the Suns led 63-51.

“I did what I was supposed to tonight (and) as a whole team… we really settled down and locked in at the end and closed the game out the way we should,” Ayton said.

This was the Suns’ first wins since January 9, ending a two-game losing streak. Also, three of their games were postponed since January 9 because of the league’s health and safety protocols surrounding COVID-19.

The third-year player opened the third quarter with a huge dunk to put his team up 65-51 with 11:46 remaining in that stanza. The Suns had their largest lead of the game of 20 points at 74-54 with 8:04 remaining in the third quarter. At the end of the quarter, the lead dwindled to 89-82 as the scrappy Rockets, who were playing without starting point guard John Wall, battled back.

Once again, the Suns stretched the lead to double digits. The lead dwindled again, and with 1:38 remaining, the Rockets were within a single basket, 103-101. Ayton grabbed a game-changing offensive rebound and was fouled going up for the putback attempt with 1:14 remaining in the game. Ayton stepped up and made both clutch free throws to put his team up 105-101. The Rockets never got within four points again the rest of the way.

Ayton had two blocks in the fourth quarter.

It was a good challenge for the Suns as they are looking to stay in the top eight of the Western Conference of the NBA.

Hield had a hot start against the Clippers, scoring 11 points in the first half. At the end of the first quarter, Hield led his team with eight points, including going 3-of-4 from the field and 2-for-2 from three-point territory. His team led 29-25 at the end of the first quarter.

The Grand Bahama native took just two shots in the second quarter and knocked down his only three point shot. The Clippers held on to a 61-56 lead at the half.

Hield went 1-for-6 in the second half as the Clippers’ defense gave him a tough time. A 34-19 advantage by the Clippers gave them a 20-point cushion going into the fourth quarter with the scoreboard reading 95-75. It was too large of a lead for the Kings to come back from as the Clippers held on for the win.

The two Bahamians return to action tonight. Ayton and the Suns will return home to face the Denver Nuggets (7-7) at the PHX Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. The game will be broadcasted live on ESPN at 10 p.m. Hield and the Kings will take on a rejuvenated New York Knicks (7-8) team at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. Tip-off is set for 10 p.m.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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