Suns' Deandre Ayton Ruled Out vs. Rockets with Ankle Injury

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 14, 2022

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 07: Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on December 07, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The shorthanded Phoenix Suns received more worrisome injury news during Tuesday's game against the Houston Rockets.

Phoenix announced big man Deandre Ayton (left ankle) and guard Cameron Payne (right foot) were ruled out for the remainder of the contest. Ayton played 15 minutes and was just 2-of-10 from the field, while Payne played eight minutes with nine points off the bench prior to the early departure.

The Suns were already without three-time All-Star Devin Booker because of left hamstring tightness.

Booker also missed Sunday's overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

That loss to the Pelicans extended Phoenix's losing streak to four games and was the fifth loss in the last six contests following a blistering 15-6 start. The team is under the microscope this season after finishing the 2021-22 campaign with the best record in the NBA, only to lose in the second round of the playoffs to the Dallas Mavericks.

It is still far too early to panic, but losing Ayton, in particular, would be a blow for the struggling Suns.

The Arizona product is averaging 17.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game behind 63.2 percent shooting from the field this season. He is a double-double threat every time he steps on the floor and someone who can finish lobs from Chris Paul, control the glass and provide a solid interior presence on both ends.

As for Payne, he adds important backcourt depth during a season that has already seen Paul and Booker miss time.

The Murray State product, who consistently provides a spark off the bench, is averaging a career-high 12.8 points and 5.5 assists a night this season.

Look for Bismack Biyombo to see more time if Ayton is sidelined for long, while Landry Shamet will assume more of the responsibilities in the backcourt if Payne is out.