CLEVELAND — Devin Booker scored 35 points, Chris Paul had 12 assists and made four free throws in the final 8.8 seconds, and theextended their winning streak to 14 games by holding off the 120-115 on Wednesday night.
Phoenix’s run started with a win over Cleveland on Oct. 30, coming after a 1-3 opening to the season for the defending Western Conference champions. The Suns have been perfect since and improved the NBA’s best road record to 7-1.
It wasn’t easy.
The young Cavs gave the Suns everything they could handle, and if not for Paul, a couple calls that could have gone either way and Cleveland’s Ricky Rubio missing three free throws in the final seconds, the streak might have ended.
The win was also the 100th with the Suns for coach Monty Williams, who is in his third season with the club.
Jarrett Allen had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Cedi Osman added 23 points for Cleveland, which dropped its fifth straight. Darius Garland scored 19 before fouling out late.
Paul finished with 17 points and JaVale McGee added 13 points and 12 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.
The Cavs were still within 117-114 when the Suns fouled Rubio with 6.5 seconds left. The veteran point guard, getting more time with leading scorer Collin Sexton out for the year, split the pair and Cleveland was forced to foul Booker.
The Suns’ star also made just one of two and Phoenix put Rubio back on the line. He missed two more, the second one on purpose before Paul sealed it by making two free throws with 3.8 seconds left.
Phoenix’s winning streak is the third-longest in club history, matching a 14-gamer by the club in 1992. The Suns won 17 straight during the 2006-07 season.
Leading by just one point after three, the Suns outscored the Cavs 13-4 to start the fourth and open a 100-90 lead with 6:56 left.
However, Phoenix couldn’t pull away as Osman kept Cleveland close by scoring nine consecutive points in one stretch and then burying a 3-pointer to pull the Cavs within 105-104 with 3:49 remaining.
Cleveland equaled Phoenix’s firepower in a tight first 24 minutes and led 66-61 at halftime after making eight 3-pointers in the Cavs’ highest-scoring first half this season. There were 10 lead changes and 11 ties in the half.
Booker dropped his first eight shots — and hardly one grazed the rim — while scoring 24 points in the first half.
Suns: Forward Mikal Bridges played in his 245th straight game to begin his career, the league’s longest active streak. Forward Abdel Nader (injury management), who underwent arthroscopic right knee surgery on April 26, sat out his third consecutive game. Forward Frank Kaminsky (right knee stress reaction) has missed five games in a row. Forward Dario Saric (right knee surgery) last played in the opener of the 2021 NBA Finals.
Cavaliers: In some ways, Cleveland has modeled its rebuild after Phoenix’s rise by drafting wisely and supplementing the roster with smart free-agent signings. “That is our goal,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “To achieve the things that they’ve achieved and build the way they’ve kind of built. We’re headed in the right direction.” Short-handed most of the season, Cleveland is still missing rookie centre Evan Mobley (elbow sprain), guard Collin Sexton (season-ending knee injury) and forward Lamar Stevens (ankle sprain).
Suns: Continue their four-game trip at New York on Friday against the Knicks.
Cavaliers: Host the Orlando Magic on Saturday.