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Jalen Smith gets 1st career double-double in 1st start for Suns

Jalen Smith #10 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the Dallas Mavericks at PHX Arena on December 23, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Mavericks 106-102. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns sat some key players for the last game of the regular season and it gave others an opportunity for some playing time.

First-round pick Jalen Smith was the main beneficiary, as he went from never being in the rotation to start against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. He took advantage with his first career double-double in a 123-121 Suns win.

Smith finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The rookie out of Maryland got to show off some of his strong finishing ability at the rim.

His teammates very much enjoyed it.

Smith started at power forward alongside center Dario Saric and got to show off some of his defensive chops too.

The Suns’ Chris Paul and Devin Booker got some rest and Jae Crowder managed his right ankle while Deandre Ayton (left knee soreness), Cam Johnson (right wrist sprain) and Abdel Nader (knee surgery) remained out. Mikal Bridges only played five minutes, maintaining his run of not missing a game since high school.

After the Spurs rested a handful of players in the Suns’ win over them on Saturday, most of San Antonio’s key players returned on Sunday.

Despite this, a 37-24 Suns third quarter gave Phoenix all the momentum and it was clearly the side of the two more invested in a win. San Antonio entered play on Saturday already being locked in at the 10th spot in the Western Conference standings.

E’Twaun Moore hit a three-pointer with two seconds left to give the Suns a two-point lead and the win. He scored a team-high 22 points.

The Suns can be the No. 1 seed if the Utah Jazz lose Sunday night to the Sacramento Kings.

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