Phoenix scored its third consecutive win on Sunday in the opening leg of a back-to-back, beating Orlando 112-107 to close out 2023.
Kevin Durant scored 31 points while Bradley Beal — in his second game back from an ankle injury — shot 10 of 13 from the floor en route to 25 points.
“Once he gets comfortable, you’ll see more and more nights like that,” Durant said of Beal in Sunday’s postgame news conference.
The marquee offseason acquisition for Phoenix, Beal has been limited to just eight games in 2023-24. Sunday’s marked his best performance as a Sun with a season high in scoring.
Devin Booker added another 21 points as Phoenix scored just its second win in four games this season in which it has had all three of Beal, Booker and Durant in the lineup.
Portland scored a season-high 134 points in its last outing, a six-point win at home over San Antonio on Friday. Four Blazers scored at least 22 points, led by Jerami Grant and Malcolm Brogdon each with 27.
Jabari Walker came off the bench for a career-high 25 points and nine rebounds, and Scoot Henderson followed his career-high 25-point effort in a 118-105 loss to the Spurs on Thursday with 22 points in Friday’s win.
Rookies Henderson and Toumani Camara each had double-doubles. Henderson dished 11 assists, matching the career high he set two games earlier, and Camara finished with 13 points and a career-high 11 rebounds.
Blazers coach Chauncey Billups offered praise for Camara and Walker each contributing to a unit that also included defensive-stopper Matisse Thybulle coming off the bench.
“We’re able to speed teams up, speed guys up at times when that group is out there,” Billups said in Friday’s postgame press conference, a reference to Camara, Walker and Thybulle combining for five steals.
Walker and Thybulle each came away with one, and Camara swiped three steals.
“They’re all really good defenders. They can get in those passing lanes,” Billups added. “That’s the way we need to play when most of our offense is on the bench in street clothes.”
Portland has been without 27.1-point per game scorer Anfernee Simons the last two games due to an illness. Simons returned on Dec. 6 from an 18-game absence after injuring his thumb in the season opener.
Shaedon Sharpe (16.8 ppg) missed the last five games with an adductor injury. Former Suns No. 1 overall draft pick Deandre Ayton, averaging a double-double of 13.1 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, missed the last three games with a knee injury.
Simons and Ayton have already been ruled out for the game. Sharpe is questionable.
The host team took the first two meetings of this series thus far in the 2023-24 campaign. Phoenix won at home on Nov. 21 in an NBA in-season tournament matchup, 120-107.
Durant scored 31 points and Booker scored 28 in the win, which was part of a seven-game Suns winning streak.
Portland won the following matchup on Dec. 19, 109-104, behind 23 points from Simons, 22 from Grant, and a 16-point, 15-rebound double-double from Ayton.
The loss set off a three-game skid for Phoenix, which ended at the beginning of the Suns‘ current winning streak with its 129-113 win in Houston on Wednesday.
—Field Level Media