Paul, Bridges help Suns escape Spurs in overtime, 121-116
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Chris Paul scored 31 points, Mikal Bridges had 25 and the Phoenix Suns escaped with a 128-118 overtime victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night.
San Antonio never led and trailed by 13 early in the fourth quarter, but forced overtime with an 18-7 run in the final four minutes of regulation.
Bridges had eight points in overtime in scoring 20-plus points for the eighth time in his past 11 games.
“With guys out, dude is stepping up,” Phoenix center Deandre Ayton said. “The confidence is not coming out of nowhere; it’s been there since the season (began). Mikal was working on his game. He’s pretty consistent, just working on his craft and tonight was a time for it show. He took over the game.”
Keldon Johnson had 34 points and Jeremy Sochan added a season-high 30 points for the Spurs.
Johnson scored seven straight points for the Spurs, cutting the Suns’ lead to 103-102 with three minutes remaining in the game. After a series of baskets, Sochan’s 3-pointer cut it to 108-107 with a minute remaining.
“Really proud,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Great effort against a good basketball team, a very good basketball team. Lot of guys played, a lot of guys participated. They played physically, they played hard, did everything they could do. A couple of guys, Chris and Mikal took over during the overtime, made shots. Keldon tried to keep us in it, those guys kind of took over.”
After Bridges hit an 11-footer, Johnson responded with a three-point play to tie it at 110 with 47.8 seconds left.
Ayton completely missed the rim on an attempted hook shot with 31.1 seconds remaining and the Spurs missed a series of shots as regulation ended.
“They’re not just not a prideful team, they have championship DNA all through the organization,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “We knew any Pop-coached team was going to evaluate and look at things they could do better.”
Ayton finished with 23 points.
Playing without Devin Booker, Cameron Payne, Landry Shamet and Jae Crowder, the Suns still managed to overcome the beleaguered Spurs. San Antonio has lost five straight and 10 of its past 11 games.
“It’s big. (The injuries have) forced him to be more aggressive,” Paul said of Bridges.
Keita Bates-Diop had 14 points and Doug McDermott added 10 points for the Spurs.
Cameron Johnson had 15 points for the Suns.
Phoenix has won six straight in San Antonio and its last seven against the Spurs.
Suns: Phoenix’s last loss in San Antonio was Jan. 29, 2019, when San Antonio forward Rudy Gay hit a 21-foot jumper at the buzzer for a 126-124 victory. The Suns’ previous loss to the Spurs was 111-85 on April 17, 2021. … A strained left groin has kept Booker out of the lineup since Dec. 25. Phoenix is 7-10 without Booker. … Payne and Shamet both sat out with foot injuries.
Spurs: George Karl, who played three seasons in the ABA with the Spurs and two in the NBA, was honored following the first quarter. Karl played his entire career with the Spurs before embarking on a 27-year coaching career in which he won 1,175 games for six franchises. Karl received an ovation after a video highlighting his time in San Antonio was played as part of the team’s 50th anniversary celebration. … Vassell missed his 13th straight game with a left knee injury that resulted in surgery Jan. 11. … Langford missed the game with left abductor tightness and Richardson was out with sore left knee.
Ayton was forced to use an iPhone charger as a belt after forgetting to pack his. The Suns center wore the charger to the AT&T Center but took it off after initially wearing it after getting dressed following the game.
Booker, who did not play but was with the team, understood. Booker showed Ayton he had to use a shoelace as a belt.
Suns: Host Toronto on Monday night.
Spurs: Host Washington on Monday night.
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