Ayton helps lift Suns over Raptors

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Bahamian now averaging a double-double during the season

Simba FrenchSend an emailFebruary 1, 2023 224 2 minute readFacebookTwitterLinkedInShare via Email

 Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) shoots over Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Phoenix. The Suns won 113-112. AP

Bahamian professional basketball player DeAndre Ayton notched his second double-double in his third game back from an illness that kept him out for three games. He was instrumental in helping the Phoenix Suns take down the Toronto Raptors, 114-106, on Monday night.

It was the Suns sixth win in seven tries after a tough stretch of losses. Playing at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, Ayton scored 22 points and had 13 rebounds in 31 minutes on the floor. The win gives the Sun their 27th win of the season, lifting them a 27-25 win/loss record. They are back over .500 and sit in the seventh position in the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The game was very competitive. It had 16 lead changes and five tied scores with no team leading by more than 10 points for the entire game. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Raptors held a slim 84-82 lead after the Suns led 62-53 at the half.

Ayton entered the game at the 6:46 mark of the fourth quarter with the Suns holding on to a one-point lead, 95-94. He had two key assists to forward Mikal Bridges with 3:02 and 2:28 left in the game. Those four unanswered points enabled the Suns to take a 103-100 lead – a lead that they didn’t relinquish the rest of the way.

The Bahamian had a putback layup to extend the Suns’ lead with 51 seconds left in the game, tipping in Torrey Craig’s missed shot to give his team a 108-102 lead. Ayton finished the night going 9-for-17 from the field, shooting 52.9 percent. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe and had five offensive boards to go with eight boards on the defensive side of the ball.

He did most of his scoring in the first quarter in which he finished 3-for-7 from the field, scoring eight points.

The number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft is now averaging a double-double on the season with 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Since returning to the court last Thursday, he has averaged 21.3 points and 13.7 rebounds in 33 minutes per game.

Against the Dallas Mavericks last Thursday, Ayton barely missed out on a 20-20 game with 19 points and 20 rebounds. He also had two blocks and two assists in a 99-95 loss. He played 31 minutes in that game. On Saturday, he helped the Suns to a 128-118 overtime victory over the San Antonio Spurs. He had 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds to go with an assist and a block in that game.

The Suns will look to win their third straight game when they return action with a matchup at home against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks tonight. Tip-off for that game is at 10 o’ clock and it will be broadcasted on ESPN.


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