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Phoenix Suns roll past Spurs to keep hopes alive for No. 1 seed

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives to the basket past San Antonio Spurs center Gorgui Dieng (7) and guard Devin Vassell (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Saturday, May 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Playoff tune-up. Handling business. Avenging a bad loss earlier in the season. Staying alive for the No. 1 seed.

However you want to view what the Phoenix Suns did to the San Antonio Spurs Saturday in a 140-103 final, they did it the way they should.

With San Antonio missing seven players, the Suns jumped out to a 17-point advantage through the first quarter. A 10-0 Spurs run in the mid-second quarter was quickly answered by Chris Paul and Devin Booker to have the Suns back up by 21 at halftime.

Phoenix scored the first seven points of the second half to bump that to 28, and from there, it was cruise control to our inevitable destination. All the Suns’ starters did not play in the fourth quarter, including Dario Saric, who was in for Deandre Ayton (left knee soreness).

“There was just an urgency after giving up a 30-point second quarter,” head coach Monty Williams said.

Booker and the team as a whole came out with confident energy playing within themselves. The two-guard scored 23 of his 27 points in the first half and shot 10-of-18 from the field in 26 minutes. Mikal Bridges made his first seven field goal attempts and finished with 18 points and three steals.

Chris Paul added 18 points, five rebounds and 10 assists in 25 minutes. All 13 Suns scored.

The Spurs entered Saturday already locked in at the 10th spot in the standings. With Tim Duncan’s Hall of Fame induction happening a few hours after tip-off, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich elected to attend that and leave assistant Mitch Johnson as the acting head coach.

The victory for the Suns maintains a chance at the No. 1 seed, something they’ll likely have to wait until Sunday night to find out their fate for. If the Suns win the same afternoon start in San Antonio on Sunday, they’ll need the Utah Jazz to lose to the Sacramento Kings, a 6 p.m. start.

With that in mind, Williams said he will talk to the players and coaches about potentially giving some key guys the day off.

“I’m trying to get my mind around that and those kind of things,” Williams said, as it is not something the Suns have done all season despite how many teams across the league consistently rest players.

“I have to do what’s best for the team … it might be a good time for us to do it and have a few days off before we start the playoffs,” Williams added.

Whatever direction Williams goes on Sunday, Booker said his mentality over the next few days before the playoffs begin is going to be “very important.”

“There should be no slippage,” Booker said. “We have to be more locked in more than ever. To the details, to the work. We just have to be focused, and I think we are.”

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