PHOENIX (AP) – Mychal Bridges scored 28 points, Deandre Ayton had 24 points and 14 rebounds and the Phoenix Suns held off the Brooklyn Nets 117-112 on Thursday night.
Brooklyn came back from 20 points down in the fourth quarter to make things tight in the final minutes.
Kyrie Irving — who scored 21 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter — hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 113-110 with 10.9 seconds remaining, after the Suns hit a free throw, Nick Claxton’s dunk with 7.4 seconds left. It’s 114 -112, but that’s as close as the Nets would get to taking the lead.
Brooklyn has lost four straight. The Suns snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Suns welcomed back forward Cam Johnson, who played for the first time in more than two months because of a knee injury. He had 19 points and made four crucial free throws in the final 20 seconds.
Johnson’s return is welcome news for a team that had lost 12 of 14 games entering Thursday.
Both teams were missing some of their star players. Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant is out with a knee injury while Phoenix is missing its All-Star backcourt of Devin Booker (groin) and Chris Paul (hip).
The Suns controlled most of the game, pushing to a 94-74 lead at the end of the third quarter. The Nets cut it to 107-102 with about 3:30 left, but then had three straight turnovers to fuel their momentum.
Irving also had seven rebounds and seven assists. He was 11 of 27 from the field.
The Suns pushed to a 65-51 halftime lead after shooting 58.5% from the field. Ayton had 17 points, nine rebounds and three assists before the break.
Nets guard Ben Simmons was ejected early in the third quarter after picking up two quick technicals for arguing.
Simmons was called for an offensive foul on a screen and then began arguing with official Eric Lewis as both went down the court. Lewis called him for his first technical and then Simmons was subbed out of the game. When Simmons sat down, he continued to argue and received his second technical.
After being ejected, Simmons immediately got up and went back to the locker room. He finished with seven points, four rebounds and six assists.
Johnson received a huge ovation from the crowd midway through the first quarter when he checked in for the first time. The cheers got even louder when he hit two 3-pointers in his first minute on the court.
Johnson was averaging 13 points before his Nov. 4 injury.
New owner courtside
Incoming Suns owner Matt Ishby was in court Thursday night, sitting near the same area that outgoing owner Robert Sarver used to sit.
Ishbia agreed to buy the Suns from the embattled Sarver for $4 billion in December. The sale is still in the process of being completed. Ishbia is a former Michigan State player under coach Tom Izzo, and was a member of the Spartans’ NCAA championship team in 2000.
The NBA suspended Sarver in September for one year, plus fined him $10 million, after an investigation found he had engaged in what the league called “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies.”
Sons: Paul, Booker, G Josh Okogie (fractured nose), G Cameron Payne (sprained right foot), G Landry Shamet (soreness of right foot) did not play. … Had a 25-11 rebounding advantage in the first half … Hosted a 48th consecutive sellout crowd.
Nets: At Utah Friday night.
Suns: Host Indiana on Saturday night.
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