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Suns release 2018-19 schedule, face LeBron’s Lakers early on

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives on Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, in Phoenix. The Trail Blazers defeated the Suns 106-104. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Phoenix Suns will open the 2018-19 season on ESPN against the Dallas Mavericks and in their fourth game face the Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Lakers and new addition LeBron James at home.

Los Angeles visits on Oct. 24. In between then and the season opener, Phoenix will on Oct. 20 visit a Denver Nuggets team that added former Suns point guard Isaiah Thomas and two days later visit the reigning champion Golden State Warriors.

A day after the first NBA games tip off, the Suns open their season Oct. 17 at Talking Stick Resort Arena against the Mavericks in a showdown of 2018 first overall draft pick Deandre Ayton and No. 3 pick Luka Doncic.

Other notable games on the home schedule include forward Trevor Ariza meeting his old team, the Houston Rockets, on Feb. 4, and another hosting of the Lakers on March 2. Aside from the opener, the Suns will appear nationally on ESPN Oct. 31 against the San Antonio Spurs and on TNT Dec. 13 against Dallas.

The league said it set a record low for the average number of back-to-backs at 13.3 for the entire season; that’s down from 19.3 in 2014-15. Phoenix had 15 back-to-backs last season and will play in just 12 this year.

Phoenix comes off a 21-61 season that led to them winning the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery and selecting Ayton with the first pick. Rookies Mikal Bridges (10th overall selection) and Elie Okobo (31st overall) are expected to contribute within the Suns’ rotation.

The return of point guard Brandon Knight, who missed 2017-18 while recovering from a torn ACL, is also projected to improve the team’s chances, as is the free agency addition of forward Trevor Ariza.

They will attempt to end an eight-year playoff drought in an even deeper Western Conference that most notably saw the Lakers add James.

The entire schedule can be downloaded here.

Single-game tickets will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, Aug. 15 at noon.

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