Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton knocks the ball away from Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 30, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
PHOENIX (AP) — Devin Booker scored 31 points, Mikal Bridges added 18 and the Phoenix Suns pulled into a tie for the top spot in the Western Conference by beating the Utah Jazz 121-100 on Friday night.
Two nights after clinching their first postseason spot in 11 years, the Suns kept rolling and never trailed after the opening minutes.
Booker shot 13 of 19 from the field, hitting three step-back jumpers late in the third that brought roars from the crowd. Chris Paul added 12 points and nine assists. Deandre Ayton had 11 points and nine rebounds.
The Suns and Jazz both have a 45-18 record. If they’re tied at the end of the season, Phoenix would claim the No. 1 seed in the playoffs because they swept the three-game season series.
The Jazz were led by Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored 22 points. Utah has lost three of its last four games.
Utah was playing without their All-Star backcourt of Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell. Conley was out because of a tight hamstring, while Mitchell has a sprained ankle. Without them on the floor, Phoenix flourished.
The Suns took a 25-point lead by midway through the second quarter when Cameron Payne’s 3-pointer made it 50-25. The Jazz managed to cut the deficit to 68-52 by halftime.
Booker led the Suns with 16 before the break, while Bridges had 13. Bogdanovic had 15 for the Jazz.
The Jazz pulled within 70-57 in the third quarter, but couldn’t get any closer. The Suns had their lead back up to 96-72 by the start of the fourth and eased to the win.
Jazz: Conley, Mitchell and center Udoka Azubuike (right ankle) were out. Conley and Mitchell have combined to average about 43 points this season.
Suns: Forwards Jae Crowder (right ankle) and Abdel Nader (right knee) didn’t play because of injuries. … The Suns shot 68% from the field (17 of 25) during the first quarter. … The Suns’ bench combined to score 49 points. Payne had 11 points, and Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric each added eight.
Jazz: Return home to host the Raptors on Saturday.
Suns: Travel to face the Thunder on Sunday.