PHOENIX (AP) — Micah Bridges scored 28 points, DeAndre Ayton had 24 points and 14 rebounds, and the Phoenix Suns beat the Brooklyn Nets 117-112 Thursday night.
Brooklyn fought back by 20 points in the fourth quarter to get things tight in the last minute.
Kyrie Irving — who scored 21 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter — scored 3 to cut it to 113-110 with 10.9 seconds left, after the Suns hit a free throw, Nick Claxton dunked with 7.4 seconds making it 114. -112, but that’s as close as they get. Nets can take the lead.
Brooklyn has lost four in a row. The Suns snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Suns welcomed forward Cam Johnson, who played for the first time in over two months due to a knee injury. He had 19 points and made four crucial free throws in the last 20 seconds.
Johnson’s return is welcome news for a team that lost 12 of its 14 games on Thursday.
Both teams were missing some of their star players. Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant was battling a knee injury while Phoenix was missing All-Star running backs Devin Booker (groin) and Chris Paul (hip).
The Suns controlled most of the game, taking a 94-74 lead by the end of the third quarter. The net cut it to 107-102 with about 3:30 left, but then they had three straight turnovers to reduce their momentum.
Irving scored seven rebounds and seven assists. It 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 halftime.
Goalkeeper Ben Simmons was sacked early in the third quarter after catching two controversial quick tackles.
Simmons was called out for an offensive foul on screen and then began arguing with official Eric Lewis as they both went onto the court. Lewis called him in his first technical game and then Simmons was taken out of the game. When Simmons sat down, he continued to argue and got the second tech.
After being ejected, Simmons immediately got up and walked back to the locker room. The team finished with seven points, four rebounds, and six assists.
Johnson got a standing ovation from the crowd midway through the first quarter when he signed in for the first time. And those cheers got even louder when he hit 2 of 3-pointers in his first few minutes on the court.
Johnson was averaging 13 points before his November 4 injury.
Ocean’s new owner
Incoming Suns owner Matt Ishpia was next to the ballpark Thursday night, sitting near the same area as previous owner Robert Sarver.
Ishbia She agreed to buy the Suns from the beleaguered Sarver For $4 billion in December. The sale is still in progress. Eshbia is a former Michigan State player under head coach Tom Izzo and was a member of the Spartans’ NCAA Championship team in 2000.
The NBA suspended Sarver in September for a year, in addition to fining him $10 million, after an investigation found that he engaged in what the league called “workplace misconduct and organizational shortcomings.”
Suns: Paul, Booker, Josh Okoji (nasal fracture), J Cameron Payne (right foot sprain), J Landry Shamet (right foot soreness) did not play. … had a 25-11 rebounding advantage in the first half … hosted 48 consecutive sellout crowds.
Nets: In Utah Friday night.
Suns: Host Indiana on Saturday night.
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