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Durant scores 38, Booker has career-best 15 assists to boost Suns past Jazz

Kevin Durant Phoenix Suns Kevin Durant - The Canadian Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 38 points and Devin Booker had 24 points and a career-high 15 assists to boost the Phoenix Suns to a 131-128 win over the Utah Jazz in an In-Season Tournament game Friday night.

Durant’s 3 lifted the Suns to a 124-115 lead before the Jazz rallied to get within one point in the final minute. Durant struck again with his sixth 3 with 18 seconds left.

Durant also collected nine rebounds and nine assists. He has scored at least 25 points in 11 straight games for the longest active streak in the NBA.

Jordan Clarkson scored a season-high 37 points for Utah. He has four straight games with 26 or more points, the longest such streak of his career.

Lauri Markkanen scored 21 points for Jazz, and John Collins had 15 points and 14 rebounds.

The Suns (6-6) improved to 1-1 in West Group A while the Jazz (4-8) dropped to 2-1.

Jusuf Nurkic scored 15 points and Eric Gordon had 14 for the Suns, who have won back-to-back games for just the second time this season.

Booker powered a 16-4 run bridging the third and fourth quarter that gave the Suns a 107-99 lead with 10:15 to play, an advantage they held — just barely — through the finish.

After a 2-7 start and the loss of defensive anchor Walker Kessler to an elbow injury, the Jazz changed their defensive strategy to a switching, sometimes trapping scheme.

The problem was they often left Durant open for 3-pointers. He went 6 for 8 from deep.

The Suns’ big three of Booker, Durant and Bradley Beal have yet to play together this season. Phoenix announced Tuesday that Beal would miss the Utah game with a lower back strain and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

Booker, who has missed eight games with ankle and calf injuries, and Durant scored or assisted on every Suns basket in a 41-point first quarter, their top scoring quarter his season. They combined for 19 points and 11 assists.

Phoenix has opted to go without a traditional point guard and put a heavy load on its scoring stars.

Keyonte George, who had 15 points, scored eight in a 12-2 run that gave the Jazz its first lead of the game late in the second quarter. It was tied 75-75 at the half.


The Suns and Jazz play each other again on Sunday.