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With no Tyler Johnson, turnovers plague Suns in loss to Rockets

Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker (1) leaps to catch a pass as Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) and PJ Tucker (17) defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 15, 2019, in Houston. The Rockets won 108-102. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Phoenix Suns have found some of their best form late in the season, and newly acquired Tyler Johnson has had a fair amount to do with it.

As a member of the Suns, Johnson has 54 assists and only 14 turnovers, good for a stellar 3.86 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Johnson missed Friday’s game against the Houston Rockets due to right knee soreness and his absence showed.

In a 108-102 loss to the Rockets, Phoenix had 22 assists and 21 turnovers. Houston scored 24 points off those turnovers.

Johnson’s main role on the team as the point guard has been setting up Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker in the best way possible. While those two had good individual nights scoring-wise, they combined for over half of the team’s turnovers with 12.

In a back-and-forth game that never saw either side create much separation, Ayton, Booker and Kelly Oubre Jr.’s offense kept the Suns in the game.

Booker had 29 points, five rebounds and seven assists in his return to the “Point Book” role. Troy Daniels started in Johnson’s place.

Ayton had perhaps his most encouraging offensive game of the season, showing off multiple different post moves for 17 points and 14 rebounds.

He now has counters to his primary moves.

Ayton’s spin move is one of his signatures, but watch him fake that into a fallaway jumper.

Ayton scored on his other go-to jumper, a turnaround on the baseline. The next possession, Ayton faked that move and spun inside for two points.

The rookie’s offensive evolution continues to impress and add more optimism around his overall outlook going forward.

Oubre dropped 22 points, and in his eight March appearances, he’s scored at least 17 points in seven of those games.

James Harden kicked up to his MVP gear when he had to. He nearly missed a triple-double with 41 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists.

The Suns even hard-doubled and blitzed Harden to get the ball out of his hands, a strategy that surprisingly worked most times due to the Rockets shooting 11-for-40 from deep.

Since a big win in Golden State, the Suns have dropped two straight and now travel to New Orleans for the second game of a road back-to-back. Tip-off on Saturday is set for 4 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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