Booker, Suns aim to add to Hornets’ woes

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Devin Booker’s franchise-record streak of seven straight 30-point performances ended but the Phoenix Suns’ star guard wasn’t the least bit dismayed.

That’s because the 23-year-old was still the hero despite registering his lowest-scoring output since Dec. 23.

Booker will seek to continue his stellar play when the Suns host the struggling Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night.

Booker drained two 3-pointers in the final minute on Friday as Phoenix closed the contest with an 8-0 run to defeat the visiting Orlando Magic 98-94.

Booker finished with 24 points in his latest strong effort. He continues to star outside of the national spotlight as the rebuilding team tries to pile up victories.

“He just battles,” Suns coach Monty Williams told reporters of Booker, who averaged 34.7 points during the 30-point streak.

“I just wish we can put some games together so that the nation can see how good he is. That’s what it’s going to take, winning games, so people can see how complete of a player he is.”

Phoenix is 4-3 over its last seven contests following a season-worst eight-game losing streak.

But the Suns suffered back-to-back home losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings prior to the win over Orlando. The loss to Sacramento came after the club built a 21-point lead.

That made for a tough two-plus days for the Phoenix players. It also made the comeback against the Magic feel sweeter.

“Heart and determination,” Booker told reporters of his team. “We wanted to get a big win. We had two hard days of practice. We talked to each other about it, came out here and got a tough win against a really good team. I am proud of the way we played.”

Forward Kelly Oubre Jr. put together another strong game by producing 22 points and nine rebounds. He has scored 20 or more in five of the past seven games.

Point guard Ricky Rubio recorded 11 points, 10 assists and three steals. He also notched his 1,000th career steal in the contest.

The Suns snapped a five-game slide against Charlotte by posting a 109-104 road win on Dec. 2. Booker and Oubre each scored 23 points.

The Hornets have lost three straight games and nine of their last 11 as they enter the second contest of a four-game road trip.

The first contest didn’t go well as the Utah Jazz thumped Charlotte 109-92. The Hornets scored 13 first-quarter points and trailed 61-38 at halftime en route to their 13th consecutive setback in Salt Lake City.

“They played well. We didn’t play well to start the game and it cost us early,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “We just have to regroup, get back together and go get one in Phoenix.”

Point guard Terry Rozier continued his strong play with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Rozier has topped 20 points in five consecutive outings and has made 22 of 48 3-pointers during the stretch.

“He looks comfortable out there,” Borrego said of Rozier. “He’s getting to his spots and creating a lot of offense for us. He’s got to stick with it. I think he’s growing and I see maturity every single game.”

Forward Miles Bridges, who had 11 points, was the lone other Charlotte starter to score in double digits. Backup post player Willy Hernangomez scored 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting.

The Hornets were sloppy with the ball, committing 21 turnovers, with Bridges and guard Devonte’ Graham each having five miscues.

“They’re a fantastic defense, but they’re not known for turning teams over,” Borrego said of the Jazz. “But we shot ourselves in the foot, especially on that end in the first quarter.”

Graham matched his season low of four points on 2-of-9 shooting. He is averaging just 7.5 points on 5-of-24 shooting over the past two games.

–Field Level Media

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