Suns run win streak to 15 in a row ahead of showdowns with Nets and Warriors


NEW YORK — The New York Knicks probably wished Devin Booker had taken in a few more glasses of wine on Thanksgiving.

After Wednesday’s win at Cleveland, Booker said he planned to spend time with family and friends celebrating the holiday, but looked to “cut Thanksgiving short” before facing the Knicks in perhaps his favorite place to play — Madison Square Garden.

“I am going to sit down with some family and friends and enjoy the day, but I may cut Thanksgiving a little early to get ready for this one,” Booker said Wednesday night.

The Suns All-Star kept his word.

“I didn’t drink as much wine as I wanted to, but it’s well worth it for what we’re about to do tonight,” Booker said after Friday morning’s shootaround.

Hours later, Booker scored 21 of his game-high 32 in the first half in leading Phoenix to a 15th straight win, 118-97 before a sellout crowd of 19,812.

Now two wins away from tying the franchise record of 17 consecutive victories set back in the 2006-07 season, the Suns (16-3) will look to finish a four-game road trip unblemished as they face Brooklyn (14-5) on Saturday at Barclays Center.

Here are five takeaways from Friday’s win as the Suns are now 8-1 in road games after posting the NBA’s best road record last season.

1. Suns coach Monty Williams made a point before the game about how he lets Chris Paul and Booker do their thing and tries to simplify the remaining three guys on the court.

Just looking at the starting five alone, one can see that.

Jae Crowder is on the wings, Mikal Bridges is in the corners and Deandre Ayton is setting screens and rolling to the rim while Paul and Booker have liberty to go anywhere on the floor.

Now Bridges has been more aggressiveness in getting the rim or to his mid-range shot. Crowder has even put the ball on the floor a time or two, and Ayton’s offense is expanding, but they’re staying in the lane.

2. The Suns posted seven players in double figures, including all five starters.

Booker scored 32. Ayton and Paul had 14 each. Cameron Payne had 13, Crowder 11 and Bridges and Cam Johnson 10 each.

They shot 55.7% from the field, hitting 13-of-28 on 3s, but they once again got it done on the defensive end in limiting the Knicks to 37% shooting from the field.

The Suns scored 25 points off 16 New York turnovers.

An example of their defensive effort came when they picked up the Knicks full court, and Payne forced a turnover that led to a Crowder 3 in the first half.

3. Williams has found a way to make his players be thankful for the opportunity to play the game.

He reiterated that message after Wednesday’s win that had to have resonated going into the holiday. The Suns were already excited to play at MSG.

Booker did reverse two-handed dunks in the pregame layup line while Paul caught his own pass off the bounce for a one-handed dunk that had Bridges going crazy.

It’s wasn’t surprising the Suns led by as many as 24 in battering the Knicks.

4. Payne seems to have found his burst and shiftiness in the last few games after missing time with a hamstring injury.

The combination of him and Landry Shamet is starting to click, as Payne is doing more off the bounce while Shamet can catch and shoot.

The Suns want to put Shamet in playmaker mode with Payne so that Payne can be more of a scorer, but the two have found their comfort zone with each other.

The three-guard look with those two and Booker is a lineup to continue to observe as Abdel Nader remains out with a knee injury.

5. The Suns will play the best team in the Eastern Conference on Sunday in Brooklyn and return home to face the best team in the West, league-leading Golden State on Tuesday.

If they win both games, they can do more than tie the franchise record for most consecutive wins. The Suns will prove they are unequivocally the NBA’s best team right now.

That didn’t seem like a possibility after their 1-3 start.

Follow Duane Rankin on Twitter @DuaneRankin.

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