The Phoenix Suns wrap up a four-game road swing on Sunday in a matinee against a Dallas Mavericks team that seeks consecutive wins for the first time since before the All-Star break.
In its second game since Kevin Durant joined the lineup, Phoenix scored a second straight blowout win on Friday with its 125-104 romp at Chicago. Durant — acquired in a trade from Brooklyn last month — finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists against the Bulls.
He debuted with 23 points and six rebounds on Wednesday in Charlotte, helping the Suns to a 105-91 win over the Hornets.
“He’s just being himself,” Devin Booker said of Durant in a postgame interview with Bally Sports Arizona following Friday’s win. “That’s what we need from him. He’s on a minute restriction, and he’s still getting to it. The more aggressive he is — you see them doubling him tonight — just freed up shots for everybody.”
Booker capitalized on being freed with Durant on the floor each of the last two games, scoring 37 points in Charlotte and 35 in Chicago. Booker and Durant accounted for two of the three Phoenix scorers with 20-plus points on Friday, as Josh Okogie finished with 25.
As for Durant’s playing-time restriction, he played 26:50 and 30:54 in his two initial appearances since joining the Suns after an MCL sprain.
Phoenix comes into Dallas with an opportunity to close its road trip at 3-1 and as a winner of three straight. The Mavericks, meanwhile, seek their first back-to-back wins since a three-game run ended on Feb. 10.
Dallas rebounded from consecutive losses to the Los Angeles Lakers last Sunday and Indiana on Tuesday with a 133-126 defeat of Philadelphia on Thursday.
The 133 points marked the Mavericks’ third-highest scoring output of the season, and they have now registered two of their three- most prolific games of the campaign since returning from the All-Star break. They came out of the break with 142 points in a 26-point rout of San Antonio.
Thursday’s win also resulted in a franchise first. Luka Doncic’s 42 points and Kyrie Irving’s 40 marked the first time two Mavericks reached at least 40 in the same contest.
“They understand they’re the leaders of the team,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said in his postgame press conference. “They set the tone, not just finding each other, but playing off one another (and) their gravity being able to find their teammates.”
Dallas rounding into form offensively will be challenged by Phoenix’s arrival, with the Suns amid one of their best defensive stretches of the season.
Phoenix opened its road trip with a three-point loss on Feb. 26 in Milwaukee, but the Suns gave up only 104 points against the Bucks in what was their last game without Durant.
Following Friday’s win, Phoenix coach Monty Williams said the team “played the kind of defense we’re capable of playing.”
The Mavs have won two of three meetings this season with Phoenix, including a 130-111 decision on Dec. 5 in the only previous clash in Dallas.
–Field Level Media