Suns welcome Ayton back for visit to Clippers

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The Phoenix Suns are expected to welcome center Deandre Ayton back to the lineup when they visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

Ayton completed a 25-game suspension Monday for testing positive for a diuretic. He hasn’t played since finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in Phoenix’s opening-night, 124-95 rout of the Sacramento Kings on Oct. 23.

Ayton, the top pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds on 58.5 percent shooting in 71 games (70 starts) last season.

“I think he’s antsy,” said Suns guard Devin Booker, according to the Arizona Republic. “The whole team is ready. It’s an exciting time.”

The Suns could also benefit with the return of Booker, who missed the past two games with a right forearm contusion. His addition could provide a boost for the reeling Suns, who have lost three in a row and five of their past seven contests, including a 111-110 home setback to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

Booker, the team’s leading scorer at 25 points per game, and Suns guard Tyler Johnson, who also missed the Portland game due to an illness, are listed as day-to-day on the injury report.

Despite their absences, the Suns almost pulled off a win before losing to Portland. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 24 points, while Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric each had 17 points for the Suns. Ricky Rubio finished with 10 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds for his sixth career triple-double, but he committed eight of the Suns’ 21 turnovers.

Rubio also missed a 3-pointer before the final horn that would have given Phoenix the victory. Portland guard Damian Lillard’s three-point play with 26 seconds remaining was the difference.

Health also has been an issue for the Clippers. Kawhi Leonard (knee), Lou Williams (calf), Patrick Beverley (concussion) and JaMychal Green (tailbone) missed the Clippers’ 109-106 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

The defeat capped a 4-2 road trip, which included in a 119-91 romp by the Milwaukee Bucks, who swept the regular-season series.

“Did we probably think we’d be better? I did personally,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said regarding his team’s overall play.

Leonard is expected to return against the Suns. Williams and Beverley are listed as day-to-day while Green has been ruled out.

Montrezl Harrell scored 30 points against the Bulls. Paul George, who missed a 3-pointer at the final horn that would have forced overtime, had 27 points and six assists but committed six turnovers. The Clippers had their four-game winning streak snapped.

The loss occurred one night after George (46) and Leonard (42) became the first Clippers’ duo to score more than 40 points apiece in a game during a 124-117 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Clippers guard Landry Shamet returned against the Bulls after a high ankle sprain kept him out of the lineup since a Nov. 11 win over the Toronto Raptors. He scored 11 points at Chicago.

The Suns handed the Clippers a 130-122 setback in their last meeting in Phoenix on Oct. 26. George didn’t play because he was rehabbing from offseason surgery on both of his shoulders.

–Field Level Media

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