Bahamian professional basketball player DeAndre Ayton only needed 25 minutes on the floor to score 19 points and help his team, the Phoenix Suns (20-10), to take down the Portland Trail Blazers (18-12), 132-100, at the Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, on Monday night.
The win was the third straight for the Suns and ninth in their last 10 outings. Their only loss in that stretch was against the Brooklyn Nets, 128-124, at home. They currently occupy the fourth spot in the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA), one game behind the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers who are tied for second.
Ayton was efficient from the field, draining eight shots on 11 attempts, shooting 72.7 percent on the night. All of his shot attempts came from inside the paint. He was perfect from the free throw line, going 3-for-3. However, the center was only able to grab five rebounds – a season-low for him. His previous season-low was six rebounds, something he did in two other games this season.
Defensively, Ayton blocked two shots on the night and had one steal.
The game was played with about 3,000 socially distanced fans in the stadium, a good sign for the league as they look to bring back fans to the games.
Ayton’s teammate, guard Devin Booker, scored a game-high 35 points. The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard with 24 points.
The Bahamian went a perfect 4-for-4 from the field in the third quarter as his team outscored the Blazers by 20 points, 37-17, in that stanza. His buckets in the quarter included some highlight reel plays like an alley-oop slam dunk and a putback slam dunk. His team led 100-71 at the end of the third quarter.
Ayton was not needed in the fourth quarter.
In the first quarter, Ayton split his two field goal attempts, making his second basket which was a layup in transition at the 6:30 mark to put his team up 13-10. He went 3-for-5 from the field in the second quarter, finishing the first half with 10 points.
The game was close after the first quarter as the Suns led 32-26. The Blazers led for a about 17 seconds in the second quarter as Rodney Hood had a slam dunk to put them up 33-32. That was the final time the Blazers led in the game. The Suns led 63-54 to close out the first half. It was still a close game at the half, but the third quarter advantage for the Suns proved too much for the visitors to overcome and made the difference in the game.
The Suns were hot from the field as they shot 51 percent and held the Blazers to 44 percent shooting. In the decisive third quarter, the Suns went 14-for-23 from the field, shooting 61 percent. The Blazers struggled in that quarter going 7-for-23 from the field, shooting 30 percent.
In 30 games, Ayton is averaging 13.9 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. He is ranked at number four in the league in rebounds. He is shooting at a high clip of 59.3 percent on the season to go along with 72.5 percent from the free throw line and is also averaging 1.1 blocks per game.
The big man and the Suns return to action tonight when they host the Charlotte Hornets (14-16) at 9 p.m.