Booker scores 17 in pre-season debut, Suns rout Trail Blazers

PHOENIX (AP) – Devin Booker showed in his preseason debut he’s ready to lead the Phoenix Suns to another run at an NBA championship.

Booker scored 17 points in 18 minutes in the first half of the Suns’ 119-74 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.

Booker missed the beginning of training camp and the Suns’ first three pre-season games after testing positive for COVID-19, despite being vaccinated.

Suns coach Monty Williams said Booker’s conditioning had improved enough to play in the game.

With Booker on the court, the Suns looked ready for a repeat trip to the NBA Finals after losing to the Milwaukee Bucks last season. Booker shot six of 10 from the field, including three of six on three-pointers, as Phoenix led 59-38 at halftime. He sat out the second half.

Booker, a two-time All-Star, averaged 25.6 points last season.

Phoenix Suns Devin Booker looks to pass as Portland Portland Trail Blazers Norman Powell defends. PHOTO: AP

Damian Lillard led Portland with 12 points. Robert Covington and CJ McCollum had 10 points while Jusuf Nurkic added eight points and 13 rebounds.

The Trail Blazers were only six of 39 on threes. The Suns made 16 of 41, including three by Landry Shamet, who had 12 points, and three by Cameron Johnson, who had 11.

Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said his team’s travel plans back to Portland were adjusted so players would be able to attend Wednesday night’s WNBA Finals game between the Chicago Sky and Phoenix Mercury at Footprint Center.

MAVERICKS 127, HORNETS 59

Tim Hardaway Jr scored 20 points to lead six Dallas scorers in double figures and the Mavericks beat Charlotte by 68 points.

The Hornets rested some top players and limited LeMelo Ball to only 11 minutes. He scored only four points while making only two of 10 shots from the field.

Some other top players were held out by Charlotte, including Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward and Kelly Oubre Jr. The Hornets were held to no more than 18 points in any period.

Kristaps Porzingis had 17 points and nine rebounds for Dallas. After leading 61-30 at halftime, the Mavericks outscored Charlotte 30-11 in the third period.

Charlotte made only three of 19 three-pointers and overall made 27.4 per cent of its shots from the field (23 of 84).

James Bouknight led the Hornets with 12 points. Cody Martin had 11.

MAGIC 103, CELTICS 102

RJ Hampton had 20 points and nine rebounds before Jeff Dowtin made a 16-foot jumper with 0.2 seconds to play for Orlando.

Wendell Carter Jr had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Cole Anthony scored 11 points for Orlando (1-3). Dowtin, E’Twaun Moore and Mo Bamba — who also blocked five shots — added 10 points apiece.

Hassani Gravett made two free throws to give the Magic a 101-100 lead with 1:04 to play. Theo Pinson answered with two foul shots to put Boston (2-1) back in front about 20 seconds later. After an empty possession by each team, Dowtin dribbled toward the right block, picked up his dribble and then hit a hit a fade-away jumper to win it.

Aaron Nesmith hit four three-pointers and scored 23 points to lead the Celtics. Several Boston players, including All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, did not play for various reasons.

Jalen Suggs, taken number five overall by the Magic in July’s draft, did not play due to a non-COVID illness.

PACERS 109, GRIZZLIES 107

Jeremy Lamb scored 15 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, including a jumper with 4.9 seconds to play for Indiana.

Domantas Sabonis had 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Chris Duarte added 21 points for the Pacers.

Lamb, isolated with Memphis’ Zaire Williams, hit a pull-up jumper near the top of the key to seal it for Indiana (2-1). He finished six of 10 from the field – despite going zero for five from three-point range – and made eight of eight from the free throw line.

Sam Merrill hit eight three-pointers and led Memphis (3-2) with 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Williams scored 19 points, John Konchar had 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Brandon Clarke added 11 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

KNICKS 108, PISTONS 100

Julius Randle had 29 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, while Taj Gibson added 21 points, nine rebounds and two blocks to lead New York.

Derrick Rose had 14 points, five assists and two steals. RJ Barrett added 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Knicks (3-0).

Randle scored 12 points in a 16-5 run that made it 82-77 going into the fourth quarter and gave New York the lead for good. He added five points, and Gibson scored four, in a 10-0 spurt midway through the period that put the game out of reach.

Jerami Grant scored 18 points, Frank Jackson added 15 and Saben Lee 14 for Detroit (1-2). Kelly Olynyk and Josh Jackson each scored 10 points.

Cade Cunningham, the number one overall selection in this summer’s draft, did not play (ankle) for the Pistons.

THUNDER 108, NUGGETS 99

Darius Bazley scored 16 points, and the Oklahoma City Thunder notched their first pre-season win.

Josh Giddey, the number six overall pick in the 2021 draft, scored 14 points for the Thunder. Lu Dort and Isaiah Roby scored 14 points and Tre Mann added 12 for Oklahoma City, which had been blown out in its first two preseason games.

Derrick Favors scored 10 points on five-for-seven shooting in 14 minutes in his first preseason action with the Thunder. Oklahoma City acquired the veteran centre in a trade this summer.

Reigning league MVP Nikola Jokic had 22 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for Denver. Michael Porter Jr and Jeff Green each scored 15 points for the Nuggets, who fell to 0-4 in the preseason.

The teams will play again in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

JAZZ 124, BUCKS 120

Jordan Clarkson had 18 points and eight rebounds, rookie Jared Butler added 16 points, seven assists and two steals, and Utah scored 18 of the final 24 points.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 14 points, Mike Conley Jr added 13 and Donovan Mitchell and Elijah Hughes 12 apiece for the Jazz (2-2). Conley and Clarkson each hit four of Utah’s 20 three-pointers.

Khris Middleton scored 25 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 21 points, six rebounds, five assist and two steals for Milwaukee (1-3). Jrue Holiday and Jordan Nwora scored 13 points apiece.

Nwora, a second-round pick in 2020, is averaging 18.5 points and has scored in double figures each game this pre-season.