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Suns center Deandre Ayton to sit out of NBA Rising Stars game

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, center, handles the ball between Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., right, and guard Dillon Brooks (24) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton will not be playing in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge on Friday.

Ayton will sit out after missing the last two games due to left ankle soreness. He’ll get All-Star week off to rest and recover ahead of the Suns’ return to the court Feb. 21 game against the Toronto Raptors.

The second-year center is averaging 18.7 points, 12 rebounds — including four offensive boards — and 1.6 blocks in 23 games played this season. He is shooting 53.9% from the field.

Ayton missed 25 games due to suspension.

In his place, New Orleans Pelicans power forward Nicolo Melli will play in the Rising Stars game. Melli is averaging 6.1 points and 2.8 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game.

Though Ayton will not be playing, the Suns will still have representation at 2020 All-Star Weekend. Guard Devin Booker was selected Thursday morning as the replacement for injured Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard on Team LeBron.

Booker will also be replacing Lillard in the 3-point shootout.

The 3-point shootout will take place Saturday and All-Star Game Sunday at the United Center in Chicago.

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