Sports

Ayton, Suns burn Nets for 16th straight win

Bahamian professional basketball player DeAndre Ayton is a part of the longest winning streak in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as he and the Phoenix Suns are on a 16-game winning streak.

The Suns (17-3)are the hottest team in the league, securing a 113-107 victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets (14-6) on Saturday night for their 16th straight win in the NBA.

Playing at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York – their fourth consecutive game on the road – the Suns matched a franchise best record through 20 games, accomplishing what they did in the 2004-2005 season. The last time they lost was to the Sacramento Kings who had them in a 1-3 hole to start the season. Since then, they have won 16 straight and have a 17-3 win/loss record.

Ayton was quiet in their last game, finishing with just 10 points and six rebounds – 5.4 points and 5.5 rebounds below his season averages. In that game, Ayton went 5-for-8 from the field in 31 minutes of play. The big man notched a double-double the previous night in a 118-97 blowout win for the Suns over the New York Knicks (11-9). In that game, he finished with 14 points and 13 boards.

Against the Nets, the Suns showed no signs of fatigue as they quickly jumped out to a 21-8 lead at the 6:24 mark of the first quarter on an Ayton turnaround jump shot. The Suns closed out that quarter up 34-20. The lead was extended to 20 points when Chris Paul connected on a three-pointer for the Suns with 6:40 left in the first half. They were ahead 51-31 at that point. The Nets then went on a 15-0 scoring run to bring the lead down to five points, 51-46, with just under a minute left in the second quarter.

Paul helped the Suns increase the lead to 10 points, executing a mini 5-0 run of his own to end that first half. He finished the half with a buzzer-beating shot, and the Suns led 56-46 at the intermission.

Every time the Nets made a run, the Suns found answers on the offensive end to keep control of the game. The third quarter ended with the Suns up 90-72.

The Nets trimmed the lead down to 10 points with just under five minutes left in the game. The Suns led 106-96 at that point. The Suns called a timeout, and coming out of the timeout, Ayton made a turnaround hook shot to put his team up 108-96 at the 4:37 mark in the fourth quarter.

The Nets managed to get the lead down to seven points with under 45 seconds left in the game, 110-103, but they ran out of time and the Suns held on for the win.

Leading the way for the Suns in scoring was Devin Booker with 30 points. The Nets’ Kevin Durant finished with a game-high 39 points.

The Suns were smoking hot from the field as they shot 55.7 percent compared to 37 percent for the Nets.

They will look to match their franchise record of 17 straight wins tonight when they host the league 

leading Golden State Warriors (18-2) at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Action gets underway at 10 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on TNT. The Suns’ franchise record of 17 straight wins was done during the 2006-2007 season.

Friday night was a milestone night for Bahamian Kai Jones as he scored his first points in his NBA career. The rookie did it with a slam dunk on a drive on the baseline with 21.2 seconds left in the Charlotte Hornets’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves (10-10). The Hornets (13-9) easily took care of the Timberwolves, 133-113, at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Jones, the 19th pick in this year’s NBA Draft, checked into the game with a little over three minutes left in the fourth quarter and finished with two points and one rebound – the first official statistics of his young career. This was his eighth career game, and his slam dunk was his only field goal attempt of the season as he has been playing sparingly.

Hornets’ reserve forward Kelly Oubre Jr. scored a game-high 27 points in the win. Timberwolves’ center Karl-Anthony Towns paced the Wolves with 25 points.

The Hornets have won eight of their last 10 games. They faced the Chicago Bulls (13-8) at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, last night, but the result of that game was unavailable up to press time.

Bahamian guard Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield was instrumental in the Sacramento Kings (8-13) 141-137 triple overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers (11-11) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on Friday night.

The guard came away with 25 points in 40 minutes on the floor. He went 8-for-21 from the field and shot 3-for-13 from deep. He also had four rebounds and six assists.

Hield was a key component in the third overtime period at which time he finished with six of the Kings’ 17 points. He went to the free throw line twice with less than 16 seconds left in the game and sank all four free throws, enabling the Kings to hold on for the thrilling victory.

On Sunday, Hield was limited to 12 points on just 5-for-17 from the field and a woeful 1-for-9 performance from deep. With that one made shot from deep, Hield extended his streak of games with at least one three-pointer to 30 – the fifth-longest streak of his six-year NBA career. He has hit at least one three-point shot in every game this season and is second in the league in made three-pointers this season with 85. He is on pace to shatter his franchise record of 282 made three-pointers in a season that was done last season. Just the Warriors’ Stephen Curry is ahead of him in made three-pointers this season with 105 as he recently broke his own record of fastest to 100 three-pointers in a season.

The Kings lost on the road to the Memphis Grizzlies (10-10) at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee, on Sunday, falling 128-101. They host the Lakers at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, tonight. That game gets underway at 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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