In return, Devin Booker scores 23 points as Suns defeat Heat


Phoenix avenges a 23-point loss to Miami in January and extends its lead over Memphis for the No. 1 seed in the West to 8 1/2 games.

MIAMI, Fla. (AP) — The Phoenix Suns are going to the playoffs, there was never any doubt about that.

In a matchup of conference leaders, the Suns also left no doubt.

In return, Devin Booker scores 23 points as the Suns defeat the Heat to clinch a playoff spot

Devin Booker scored 23 points, Mikal Bridges added 21, and the Phoenix Suns overcame a slow start to defeat the Miami Heat 111-90 on Wednesday night, becoming the season's first team to clinch a playoff berth.

Booker flirted with a triple-double after returning from a four-game absence due to virus-related issues — he said he was asymptomatic and had no problems — finishing with nine assists and eight rebounds.

Last season, his first trip to the playoffs ended in a loss in the NBA Finals. This time, he's looking for a little more.

Phoenix improved its NBA-best record to 53-13, and the Suns, the reigning Western Conference champions, have now beaten all other 29 teams this season — the first time since 2006-07.

The Suns also avenged a January 23rd loss to Miami.

Phoenix improved its NBA-best road record to 25-6 after a win in Orlando on Tuesday night. The Suns lead Memphis by 8 1/2 games and are nine games ahead of Golden State and East-leading Miami.

Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 19 points on 9-for-10 shooting and 10 rebounds. JaVale McGee added 11 points and 15 rebounds, and Jase Crowder and Cameron Payne each added 11 points.

Miami lost for the third time in its last 15 games, as Duncan Robinson scored 22 points.

Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro each had 17 points for the Heat, who were missing Jimmy Butler (sinus congestion) and key reserve Caleb Martin (hyperextended left knee) midway through the second quarter.The Heat expects to learn more on Thursday.

The Suns trailed by 11 points early, took a two-point lead at halftime, and then outscored Miami 34-19 in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. Booker finished the quarter with a long 3-pointer, the Heat went 1 for 8 from beyond the arc, and the score was 91-74 entering the final 12 minutes.

Miami exploded for 25 points in the first six minutes, fueled by five 3-pointers. The Heat shot 9 for 12 from the field, 5 for 6 from 3-point range, and finished the burst with seven consecutive shots.

That's when Phoenix's defense came into play. The Heat were 5 for 27 on three-pointers the rest of the way. The Suns went on an 18-7 run late in the third quarter to increase their lead to 80-65, which grew to 27 in the fourth.


Phoenix outrebounded Miami by a margin of 55-38. To have the best regular-season record in franchise history, the Suns must go 10-6 in their final 16 games. In 1992-93 and 2004-05, the Suns went 62-20. … Crowder was introduced last among Phoenix's starters, a tradition Miami employs to ensure former Heat players receive a proper and warm welcome. The fans complied. Phoenix improved to 5-3 despite the absence of Chris Paul (fractured thumb).


Heat: It was Butler's 21st missed game this season; Miami is 13-8 without its highest-paid player. Victor Oladipo scored four points in 16 minutes in his second game back after missing 11 months due to leg surgery. Expect no changes to Oladipo's minutes allocation anytime soon.


Phoenix gave up 25 points in the first six minutes, a season high. The Suns then gave up two points in the next six minutes, a season high for that time period. And the tone for the rest of the evening was set.


On one possession, the Suns missed eight shots. Crowder missed a 3-pointer with 9:39 remaining in the second quarter, Aaron Holiday missed a layup, and McGee missed two putbacks and a tip-in attempt before Miami batted the ball out of bounds. Landry Shamet attempted a corner three-pointer, had it blocked, got the rebound, then attempted a layup, which was blocked out of bounds.

Finally, Crowder missed another 3-point attempt, and Miami took possession.