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Suns lay smackdown on Wizards in 2nd half of blowout win

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, center, drives as Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija (9) and guard Russell Westbrook (4) defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, April 10, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — At the start of Saturday night’s game against the Washington Wizards, the Phoenix Suns got out to a 10-2 advantage. After the Wizards called a timeout, they responded with a 15-4 run and kept the game close throughout the opening two quarters.

At the beginning of the second half, the Suns went on a 9-3 run to lead by eight. Washington went with a timeout again, but this time, the Suns kept rolling. Phoenix outscored its opposition 44-24 in the third quarter and coasted from there to a 134-106 win.

The 44 points were the most the Suns have scored in a quarter this season.

Devin Booker had 17 of his 27 in that third. He started hitting pull-up 3s, a sign that he’s cookin’.

“I usually can tell when he’s got it goin’, just looking at the way he’s letting the ball go, his balance on his shot,” head coach Monty Williams said. “And I think the team realized it too and everybody was wanting to feed him the ball so he could continue it.”

Booker also found Mikal Bridges for the second time in the game on a cross-court lead bounce pass in transition, one he couldn’t help but smile at replicating.

Booker liked that one more than the first because of Bridges’ difficult finish and Bridges agreed. (So do I, if you’re curious.)

The Suns had 22 assists in the two middle quarters and finished with 36 on the night to only three turnovers. That was great to see after back-to-back 20-assist outputs in the last two games, albeit against stellar competition.

Williams liked how much the Suns were moving off the ball, noting he emphasizes body movement just as much as ball movement in the 0.5 elements of the offense.

At halftime he emphasized to his team the 36 points in the paint for the Wizards. In what’s proven to be the No. 1 key ingredient to the Suns’ offensive success, they were able to get stops and create offense off those opportunities to run.

“Once we got a stop, we were flying down the floor,” Williams said.

The Suns converted on 17 three-pointers and managed 134 points with only seven free-throw attempts.

All five Suns starters were in double figures: Booker, Bridges (15), Deandre Ayton (14), Jae Crowder (11) and Chris Paul (13), who added 10 assists and five rebounds.

The game had a certain amount of lethargic energy to it in the first half, but it was encouraging to see the Suns turn it on and then shut the door without allowing an inferior team to slowly creep back into the game, as they’ve been prone to doing this season.

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