The Phoenix Suns bounced back from Monday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers with a 111-107 overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.
Deandre Ayton led the way with 28 points and 13 rebounds as Phoenix improved to 22-5. Chris Paul added 24 points and 14 assists, including the game-tying shot to force overtime.
The Suns remained without star shooting guard Devin Booker (hamstring), who hasn't played since Nov. 30. Ayton returned from a two-game absence caused by a non-COVID-19 illness.
Portland fell to 11-17 and its losing skid has now reached six games. Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 31 points and 10 assists.
Notable Player Stats
C Deandre Ayton, PHX: 28 points, 13 rebounds
G Chris Paul, PHX: 24 points, 14 assists
G Cam Payne, PHX: 17 points (off bench)
G Damian Lillard, POR: 31 points, 10 assists
F Norman Powell, POR: 23 points
C Jusuf Nurkic, POR: 17 points, 13 rebounds
Deandre Ayton's Return Sparks Suns
Phoenix greatly benefitted from one of its stars returning Tuesday. Ayton was able to get going early, working the pick-and-roll with Chris Paul.
Ayton made his presence felt from the start with 13 of his 28 points in the first half.
Ayton's activity on the inside opened things up for the Suns' outside shooters and he helped the team build a 14-point lead in the third quarter. But Portland switched to a zone defense midway through the period and started limiting his touches, allowing the Blazers to make a comeback.
But Ayton came up big again in the fourth quarter to keep Phoenix in the game. Paul was able to force overtime with his patented midrange jumper.
In the extra period, Ayton continued to hurt the Blazers with his rolls to the basket. He opened up space for Cam Johnson (12 points) to make a three-pointer and he got free near the rim for a bucket. He also anchored Phoenix's defense with some strong play on the inside to help limit Portland to five points in overtime.
The Suns have looked like one of the best teams in the NBA this season, but injuries to key players have hindered the team. Getting Ayton back was a big reason for Phoenix gutting out a road win against the scrappy Blazers.
Blazers Storm Back in Second Half, Fall Short in Overtime
Portland looked sluggish to start the game, shooting just 33.3 percent in the first quarter. It looked as though the Blazers would end up suffering a demoralizing loss to one of the best teams in the Western Conference, but the team refused to lay down on its home court.
Portland was able to overcome its early shooting woes with a second-half run to turn the game around. The Blazers also were able to stifle the Suns offense when they switched to a zone defense, allowing them to claw their way back into the game.
The Blazers got out in transition and started connecting on their outside shots, hitting 5-of-10 three-pointers in the third quarter. Portland ended the frame on an 11-0 run to take the lead heading into the fourth.
The Blazers jumped out to a six-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Phoenix wouldn't go away. The Suns were able to force overtime, and Portland just ran out of gas. The Blazers shot 2-of-9 in the extra frame.
It's been a tough start to the season for Portland. The team showed effort and fight to not go down easily on its home floor, but it's hard to find a consolation after a sixth consecutive loss. The Blazers will have to make some changes if they hope to make a ninth straight playoff appearance.
The Suns will return home to host the Washington Wizards on Thursday. The Blazers will look to end their losing streak Wednesday at home against the Memphis Grizzlies.