PHOENIX SUNS

Suns’ Deandre Ayton, Jazz’s Lauri Markkanen both available Monday

Mar 27, 2023, 4:37 PM | Updated: 4:40 pm

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns high fives Torrey Craig #0 after scoring against the Utah Jaz...

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns high fives Torrey Craig #0 after scoring against the Utah Jazz during the second half of NBA game at Footprint Center on November 26, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Jazz 113-112. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton is available after being ruled probable to return to the lineup Monday night at the Utah Jazz.

Ayton missed Phoenix’s last four games with a right hip contusion, and the Suns went 1-3 with a victory Saturday night against the Philadelphia 76ers in his absence.

The big man went through pregame warmups at Footprint Center on Saturday, and head coach Monty Williams told reporters before tip-off that Ayton was progressing but “not there yet.”

The Suns are inching closer to full strength. Ayton’s return preludes forward Kevin Durant reportedly progressing toward a possible return Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Durant was ruled out Monday as he works back from an ankle sprain.

Ayton is scoring 18.3 points per game this season and is looking at a matchup against Utah’s stout rookie big man Walker Kessler.

The Suns started Bismack Biyombo in Ayton’s place, and the veteran had a major impact Saturday with 17 points and 13 rebounds vs. Philadelphia.

Phoenix retook the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference with the win, but there are four teams within two games of the Suns. Breathing room is nonexistent for a top-four seed and home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Plus, if Durant returns Wednesday, the Suns will have seven games to play with a healthy roster before the playoffs begin.

Jazz wings Jordan Clarkson (finger sprain) and Rudy Gay (back soreness) were ruled out for Monday’s game, as was guard Collin Sexton (hamstring strain). All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen (hand contusion) is available to play after missing two games and being listed as questionable.

Monday’s game from Salt Lake City tips off at 6 p.m. on 98.7, ArizonaSports.com and the Arizona Sports app. 

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