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Suns top Mavs to keep playoff hopes alive, go 8-0 in bubble

Thu Aug 13 7:32pm ET

Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker dribbles the ball down court against the Indiana Pacers during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) The Phoenix Suns have done all they can.

Now, they must wait to see if their Disney-style fairytale continues.

Devin Booker scored 27 points and Phoenix past the Dallas Mavericks 128-102 on Thursday to keep its playoff hopes alive and finish as the only unbeaten team in the seeding games.

Dario Saric scored 16 points and Cameron Payne and Cameron Johnson each added 15 for the Suns. They will qualify for the play-in series that starts Saturday if Portland loses to Brooklyn later Thursday. If Portland wins, Phoenix's season is over.

''My thoughts are on that, but also, I'm just really grateful for the effort and the growth of this team,'' Suns coach Monty Williams said.

Memphis won its game against Milwaukee, making Phoenix's path more difficult. The games were played simultaneously, and Williams was paying attention to both.

''I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't looking,'' he said. ''I'm not ashamed to tell you we've all been thinking about it. I just told them to focus on the game and here I am - I probably looked at it right after I said it to them.''

Booker has been a breakout star in the bubble. The guard has averaged 30.5 points while shooting 50%t from the field. He was more concerned about team goals after the game.

''We had one objective - to get better - and we did that,'' Booker said. ''I think we approached this with the right mindset from the beginning, from practices, from training camp in Phoenix, from the first two weeks we got down here, everybody was locked in on all cylinders.''

Dallas was already locked into a playoff matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers, so the starters played limited minutes. Luka Doncic, who had averaged 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11.3 assists in the bubble, finished with 18 points in just over 13 minutes. Boban Marjanovic, Dallas' 7-foot-4 reserve center, had 18 points and a career-high 20 rebounds.

The Mavericks still had hoped to perform better heading into the playoffs.

''Today was disappointing,'' Mavericks guard J.J. Barea said. ''We didn't show up. Our goal was to make it to the playoffs. So we're here now and we've got to get ready for it.''

Phoenix shot 66% in the first half to take a 76-57 lead. Booker scored 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting before the break. Their biggest lead was 28 points.

TIP-INS

Mavericks: F/C Kristaps Porzingis sat out with a left heel injury. ... Marjanovic got his fifth start of the season. ... Seth Curry had missed three of the previous five games with right leg soreness. He finished with eight points in just over 20 minutes of action.

Suns: Beat the Mavericks 117-115 in the bubble on August 2. ... Shot at least 50 percent in each of the first three quarters. ... Committed just six turnovers. ... Ricky Rubio had 12 assists. ... Mikal Bridges scored 14 points.

SUNS DNA

The Suns averaged 122 points in the eight games.

''You saw our DNA on display,'' Williams said. ''That's who we are, from the first day of practice in training camp we've been playing that way. And we understood all along for us to win that's the way we'd have to play. I'm proud of the guys that have played that hard for us all season long.''

QUOTABLE

Suns G Jevon Carter on losses earlier in the season costing the Suns a chance to control their playoff chances: ''There's no point. We lost games. Whatever happened back then there's no point talking about it now. We can't change the past.''

UP NEXT

Mavericks: Play the Los Angeles Clippers next week in the playoffs.

Suns: Either season over or will be in a play-in game against Memphis on Saturday. ---

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Player Notes
Danny Green Sep 23 5:10pm ET

Los Angeles Lakers guard Danny Green (finger) is listed as probable for Thursday's Game 4 versus the Denver Nuggets. He tweaked his left ring finger on his non-shooting hand. Green is fully expected to suit up for this one. He hasn't put together great fantasy value during the playoffs, but has had his moments. Alex Caruso (wrist) and Rajon Rondo might see more minutes if Green does sit out. Fantasy owners should check back for another update closer to tip-off on Thursday.

Mitchell Robinson Sep 23 5:00pm ET

New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson has decided to sit out the upcoming voluntary workouts in the bubble. He did go through some individual workouts last week, but has chosen to not attend these events. The workouts start on Wednesday, but Robinson won't participate due to personal reasons. It would've been nice to see Robinson get in some extra work with head coach Tom Thibodeau. However, there is plenty of time for that with the season likely not starting until January. Robinson should have promising upside for fantasy leagues next season.

Buddy Hield Sep 23 5:00pm ET

Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield had a fairly rocky season, but did find some success coming off the bench with the second unit. Kings general manager Monte McNair praised Hield and mentioned that he is an important piece to their vision. Hield didn't seem too happy about playing off the bench, so we'll see if that changes going forward. McNair mentioned that he wants head coach Luke Walton to increase the pace next season. Whether he's starting or off the bench, Hield is worth grabbing in the middle rounds of most drafts next season.

Alex Caruso Sep 23 5:00pm ET

Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso (wrist) is listed as probable for Thursday's Game 4 contest against the Denver Nuggets. Caruso mentioned that his left wrist felt a little stiff after Tuesday's loss. He'll get an MRI on Wednesday, but Caruso is expected to play through the issue. Fantasy owners should check back for another update before tip-off on Thursday. Rajon Rondo would likely see more minutes coming his way if Caruso sits out.

Dion Waiters Sep 22 5:40pm ET

Los Angeles Lakers guard Dion Waiters (groin) is expected to miss Tuesday's Game 3 contest against the Denver Nuggets. Waiters has missed each of the last five games due to a left groin injury. He is currently listed as doubtful for this game, so it's unlikely that he suits up here. His absence won't mean a whole lot for the Lakers rotation. Alex Caruso and Rajon Rondo could see a few extra minutes coming their way.

JJ Redick Sep 22 5:30pm ET

New Orleans Pelicans guard J.J. Redick mentioned that he'd like to play another four years in the league. "I realized this year I want to keep playing as long as possible. My goal is to play four more years," said Redick. He'll walk away from the game when he turns 40 years old, assuming his body can hold up until then. It's not unrealistic to think that Redick can play four more seasons after averaging 15.3 points this season. He has one year left on his current deal with the Pelicans. Redick usually carries some low-end fantasy value, assuming he continues to play like he did this season.

Tristan Thompson Sep 22 5:30pm ET

Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson has shown interest in staying with the organization next season. It sounds like there is mutual interest between both sides, but it's unclear if a deal will happen. Bringing back Thompson wouldn't make much sense if Andre Drummond accepts his player option, which he is expected to do. Thompson might be forced to test his luck on the free agent market. He won't have much value in fantasy hoops if stays in Cleveland alongside Drummond.

Romeo Langford Sep 22 5:20pm ET

Boston Celtics guard Romeo Langford (wrist) is scheduled to undergo surgery on Tuesday and will miss the rest of the postseason. He'll undergo surgery to repair the scapholunate ligament in his right wrist. The Celtics have not given a timetable for the young guards return yet. However, the season isn't expected to start until around December, so Langford should have plenty of time to recover. His absence won't mean much for the Celtics rotation. Hopefully he'll be able to contribute to the team next season.

Paul George Sep 21 4:10pm ET

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George and forward Kawhi Leonard are committed to playing alongside each other. Both players have one year left on their deals, but have player options for the following season. Obviously, they didn't get the result they wanted this season, but they'll have another shot at it soon. The Clippers are desperate to make this core work after trading seven first-rounders and a future star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for George. Both players should remain top tier fantasy options in leagues next season.

Will Barton Sep 21 2:30pm ET

Denver Nuggets guard/forward Will Barton (knee) is not expected to return to the team at any point of the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The 29-year-old has not appeared in a game since the NBA restart in Orlando as he continues to rehabilitate from a knee injury that he suffered earlier in the season. With the Nuggets two games away from elimination in the Western Conference Finals, Barton's next game action will likely be delayed to the start of the 2020-21 season after averaging 15.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.1 steals on 45% shooting from field goal range through 58 games during the 2019-20 season.

Dylan Windler Sep 20 12:50pm ET

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Dylan Windler (leg) is ready to participate in 5-on-5 workouts. He was a first round pick by the Cavs in 2019, but didn't play in a single game for the team. Windler suffered a leg injury that resulted in surgery, which cost him the entire season. It sounds like he is making progress and getting ready for next year. However, he'll face an uphill battle for minutes after the emergence of Kevin Porter Jr. towards the end of the regular season. Windler could find some minutes in Cleveland next season, but probably won't play enough to warrant drafting in most formats.

Davis Bertans Sep 16 4:30pm ET

Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans decided to sit out the Orlando bubble in order to preserve his health for free agency. Bertans is an upcoming free agent and the Wizards had a slim chance of making the playoffs. He didn't believe it was worth the risk after not playing basketball for almost two months. Bertans sitting out shouldn't hinder his value whatsoever on the free agent market. He'll be a highly coveted player, but the Wizards are likely going to be aggressive to keep him in Washington.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Sep 15 5:40pm ET

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had a three-hour meeting with co-owner Marc Lasry on Saturday. They reportedly discussed the season and how the Bucks can improve their roster. Lasry confirmed that he is willing to go over the luxury tax this offseason. It sounds like the Bucks are trying everything to keep Antetokounmpo happy in Milwaukee. We'll see what happens during the offseason.

Gordon Hayward Sep 15 5:40pm ET

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (ankle) has been ruled out for Tuesday's Game 1 against the Miami Heat. He was listed as doubtful, but it appears Hayward will remain sidelined for this one. Hayward is likely going to need to go through a full practice before being allowed back on the court. The team is hopeful that Hayward will be able to play at some point during this series. It's unclear whether or not he'll be limited when he does return. Fantasy owners should keep an eye out for updates. In the meantime, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart will benefit with increased playing time.

Javonte Green Sep 15 5:30pm ET

Boston Celtics guard Javonte Green (knee) is listed as doubtful for Game 1 against the Miami Heat on Tuesday. He left the bubble in August to undergo an arthroscopic procedure to repair a small meniscal tear in his right knee. Green hasn't been able to play since then, but is surprisingly not listed as out here. Listing him as doubtful is actually an upgrade for Green. Regardless, Green won't have a big enough role in the rotation to do any damage in DFS lineups.

Danuel House Jr. Sep 11 3:30pm ET

Houston Rockets forward Danuel House (personal) could miss the rest of the playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. The NBA is currently doing an investigation on House allegedly sneaking a female into the bubble. It doesn't sound like he'll get back on the court until the NBA makes their decision. That means, Jeff Green, Austin Rivers, and Ben McLemore will see more playing time coming their way.

Gordon Hayward Sep 11 3:20pm ET

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (ankle) is back in the bubble and expected to clear quarantine on Friday. However, he is still not close to getting back on the court after suffering a Grade 3 ankle sprain in mid-August. The hope is that Hayward could return at some point next series, assuming the Celtics advance. Until then, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown will continue to have increased value.

Clint Capela Sep 9 2:50pm ET

Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela (foot) has been cleared to begin doing 5-on-5 workouts. The Hawks are expected to begin group workouts in the end of September, so Capela should be taking part in that. He was traded to Atlanta mid-season, but has not played a game for them yet due to a plantar fasciitis issue. He is fully expected to be ready for the 2020-2021 season. It'll be interesting to see what kind of fantasy value he produces alongside John Collins.

Nicolas Batum Sep 9 2:40pm ET

Charlotte Hornets forward Nicolas Batum is expected to pick up his $27 million player option for next season. It is far more than he'd get in free agency, so there's no reason for him not to accept the deal. It's the final year of his contract, so the Hornets are likely going to attempt to move Batum. Sadly, it's going to be difficult to find a trade partner when he's owed that much money. The Hornets are likely going to be stuck with Batum for at least one more season.

Danuel House Jr. Sep 9 2:40pm ET

Houston Rockets forward Danuel House (personal) was unable to suit up for Tuesday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He is dealing with a personal issue, so it's unclear if he'll suit up next game. Robert Covington (face), Jeff Green, Austin Rivers, and Ben McLemore would benefit if House is out. Covington is the best fantasy option out of the bunch.