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Paul, Booker help NBA-best Suns roll to 9th straight win

Devin Booker scored 29 points, Chris Paul had a triple-double with 21 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds and the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns won their ninth straight game, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 134-124 on Friday night.

Cam Johnson — who has recently moved into a starting role with several key players are injured — hit back-to-back 3-pointers midway through fourth to help push the Suns past the pesky Timberwolves. He finished with 23 points. The 6-foot-8 forward also had the assist on two more 3-pointers in the closing minutes — one by Landry Shamet and another by Paul.

Phoenix played without starters Deandre Ayton (right ankle sprain) and Jae Crowder (left wrist contusion) and key backups JaVale McGee (left knee soreness) and Cameron Payne (right wrist sprain).

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is pressured by Minnesota Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoMatt York)

The Suns improved to 39-9, the best start in franchise history. They moved to 30-0 when leading after three quarters, using the veteran savvy of Paul to take control in key moments. Phoenix hit 20 3-pointers to tie a season high. It was Paul’s 18th career triple-double and third since joining the Suns last season.

The Suns had a 12-point lead late in the third quarter but had to settle for a 100-93 advantage going into the fourth after Anthony Edwards had a steal and made a 14-foot jumper at the buzzer. The Timberwolves cut it to three points at one point in the fourth but couldn't get closer.

Edwards had 27 points and a career-high 10 assists for Minnesota. Malik Beasley added in 26 points off the bench, and Karl-Anthony Towns had 23. Beasley scored 18 points in the fourth quarter.

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) reaches for a loose ball as Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards (1) and Phoenix Suns center Bismack Biyombo (18) look on during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoMatt York)

The Suns pushed ahead 40-32 after the first quarter and took a 74-66 lead into halftime. Booker led all scorers with 20 points before the break, and Paul added 15 points and nine assists. Edwards led the Timberwolves with 16 points.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: Guards Patrick Beverley (right ankle sprain) and D'Angelo Russell (left shin contusion) didn't play. ... Towns got a technical foul late in the second quarter for arguing with a referee.

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) looks to pass as Phoenix Suns center Bismack Biyombo (18) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoMatt York)

Suns: Phoenix shot 10 of 19 (52.6%) from 3-point range in the first half. ... The Footprint Center hosted a sellout crowd for the 10th straight game. ... Paul needed just nine shots to get his triple-double. He was 4 of 5 on 3-pointers.

UP NEXT

Timberwolves: Host the Jazz on Sunday.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell (4) shoots as Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, left, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoMatt York)

Suns: Host the Spurs on Sunday.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) drives as Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoMatt York)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards shoots as Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges, right, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoMatt York)