Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) shoots against Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)
MINNEAPOLIS — Deandre Ayton scored a career-high 35 points and had 14 rebounds, Devin Booker had 22 of his 28 points in the second half and the Phoenix Suns surged past the trash-talking Minnesota Timberwolves 125-116 on Wednesday night.
Landry Shamet scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to help fuel the rally and bring the NBA-leading Suns within one win — or Memphis loss — of wrapping up homecourt advantage for the entire playoffs.
The Suns have a nine-game lead with nine games left. They have won six straight, 18 of 22 and are 59-14 overall and 29-6 on the road.
Anthony Edwards scored 19 points for Minnesota, and Karl-Anthony Towns had 15 points and 11 rebounds — but had only three points and three rebounds in the second half after he woke up the Suns with his trash-talking after a dunk late the first half.
The Timberwolves dropped 1 1/2 games behind Denver for the No. 6 seed that avoids the play-in tournament. Minnesota has its first two-game losing streak since Feb. 9-11.
Phoenix, playing without All-Star guard Chris Paul and sixth-man Cam Johnson, completed its first sweep of three or more games against Minnesota in 11 seasons.
The Timberwolves had a 15-point lead in the third quarter and were still up 88-83 at the start of the fourth.
KNICKS 121, HORNETS 105
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — RJ Barrett scored 30 points and New York made 20 3-pointers to beat Charlotte, snapping the Hornets’ five-game winning streak.
Obi Toppin had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Alec Bunks added 17 points for the Knicks, They have won three of five. Playing without Julius Randle, who sat out with right quadriceps tendon soreness, the Knicks shot 20 of 45 from beyond the arc.
LaMelo Ball had 32 points and nine rebounds for Charlotte.
WARRIORS 118, HEAT 104
MIAMI (AP) — Jordan Poole scored 30 points and short-handed Golden State scored the first 19 points of the second half and beat Miami.
Damion Lee, Jonathan Kuminga and Andrew Wiggins each scored 22 points for the Warriors. The Warriors were already without Stephen Curry because of a sprained left foot and Andre Iguodala with low back tightness, plus gave Draymond Green, Otto Porter Jr. and Klay Thompson the night off for injury management.
Kyle Lowry scored 26 points, Bam Adebayo had 25, Jimmy Butler finished with 20 and Duncan Robinson had 13 for the Heat.
GRIZZLIES 132, NETS 120
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Desmond Bane scored 23 points, including nine straight as Memphis rebuilt its lead in the fourth quarter, and the Grizzlies beat Kyrie Irving and Brooklyn.
Irving scored 43 points and Kevin Durant had 35 points and 11 rebounds. Still banned from playing home games because of a New York City vaccine mandate, Irving was on the court for the first time since scoring 60 points at Orlando eight days earlier. But that arrangement for Irving, who is unvaccinated against COVID-19, is coming to an end. New York City Mayor Eric Adams is set to lift the mandate for athletes and performers.
Memphis was the short-handed home team this time with leading scorer Ja Morant sidelined because of right knee soreness.
76ERS 126, LAKERS 121
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Joel Embiid had 30 points and 10 rebounds, James Harden added 24 points and Philadelphia held off LeBron James-less Los Angeles.
Tyrese Maxey added 21 points. Philadelphia has won five of seven overall.
James sat out to rest his sore knees. Dwight Howard scored a season-high 24 points, and Russell Westbrook also had 24 for Los Angeles.
The ninth-place Lakers are still in the expanded playoff picture, but are now guaranteed to finish with their seventh losing record in nine years.
CELTICS 125, JAZZ 97
BOSTON (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 11 of his 26 points during Boston’s nearly perfect first quarter to help the Celtics roll past Utah.
Jaylen Brown also had 26 points, and Marcus Smart had a career-high 13 assists. Boston won its fifth straight victory to improve its chances for one of the Eastern Conference’s top four seeds.
Donovan Mitchell scored 37 points for the Jazz. Utah has lost consecutive games for the first time since the end of January, a span of 21 games.
MAVERICKS 110, ROCKETS 91
DALLAS (AP) — Jalen Brunson scored 28 points, Spencer Dinwiddie added 26 with Luka Doncic resting a sore right ankle and Dallas overwhelmed Houston in the second half.
Dallas pulled even with Utah at 45-28 for the fourth seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Jazz, who lost 125-97 at Boston, hold the tiebreaker over the Mavericks. They play Sunday in Dallas.
Rookie Alperen Sengun had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Rockets. They are an NBA-worst 18-55.
KINGS 110, PACERS 109
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Damian Jones’ tip-in with less than a second left lifted Sacramento past Indiana.
Trey Lyles missed a 3-pointer and Jones tipped in the rebound with 0.2 seconds remaining.
Davion Mitchell scored 25 points, and Chimezie Metu had a career-high 22 for the Kings.
Buddy Hield led the Pacers with 25 points.
PISTONS 122, HAWKS 101
DETROIT (AP) — Jeremi Grant scored 21 points and slumping Detroit routed Atlanta in its biggest margin of victory of the season.
Cade Cunningham added 17 points and eight assists for Detroit. The Pistons led by 29 points while winning for the second time in eight games.
Trae Young had 21 points and nine assists for Atlanta.
SPURS 133, TRAIL BLAZERS 96
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Dejounte Murray had 28 points before sitting for the final quarter and San Antonio routed Portland.
Keldon Johnson added 26 points for the Spurs. They are 11th in the Western Conference, 1 1/2 games behind of New Orleans for the final play-in spot.
Ben McLemore had 23 points off the bench for Portland.
THUNDER 119, MAGIC 102
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Theo Maledon scored 17 of his season-high 25 points in the fourth quarter and Oklahoma City beat Orlando to snap a 10-game skid.
Tre Mann and Isaiah Roby each scored 21 for the Thunder in a matchup between two of the NBA’s worst teams.
NICOSIA — Ethnically divided Cyprus ranks first among European Union member nations in the number of migrants it repatriates relative to its population of just over a million people, the country's interior minister said Thursday.
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