Watch Deandre Ayton put up 29 points, 21 rebounds, lead Suns past Jazz 113-112 Doncic calls Antetokounmpo ‘the best player in the NBA right now’ Three things to know: The Warriors are starting to look like the Warriors again Curry drains 7 3-pointers, Nets start homestand with win over Blazers T.J. Warren targets Dec. 2 for return to court for Brooklyn Nets


PHOENIX. During the NBA offseason, there was a lot of controversy about Deandre Ayton cost max contract.

On nights like Saturday, the answer is a resounding yes.

Ayton set a season high with 29 points and 21 rebounds. Devin Booker added 27 points to give the Phoenix Suns a 113–112 win over the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz led 81–78 after three quarters, but the Suns took a 99–93 lead by the middle of the fourth. The game remained tense until the last minutes, but Phoenix did not lose the lead. In addition to Ayton’s scoring and rebounding, he also had a crucial late-minute interception that helped derail the Jazz’s final rally.

“I don’t know what he ate for Thanksgiving,” Booker said. – I should have been there.

Ayton made his 21st rebound of the game on his last possession, securing Booker’s three-pointer miss to keep the Jazz from last possession. Ayton signed a four-year, $133 million contract during the off-season after the Suns matched an offer from the Indiana Pacers.

“This young man came to the gym during crazy hours, trained with (coaches) to be ready for such moments,” said Suns coach Monty Williams. “It’s nice to see that the work is paying off. It’s nice to see him playing monster games against really good teams in a row. It’s impressive.”

Ayton was the first player to score at least 28 points and 20 rebounds in a game for the Suns since Amar’e Stoudemire in 2007. He hit 11 of 19 from the field and added three assists and two blocks.

“I want to do more, I feel like I can do more,” Ayton said. “I’m just trying to do everything in my power to contribute to my team.”

Curiously, the Jazz didn’t foul the Suns on their last possession, essentially buying them time. Utah coach Will Hardy said the last game just didn’t go the way the team expected and there was some misunderstanding.

“We wanted to get the ball out of Booker’s hands and then foul,” Hardy said.

Ayton scored a season record for the second night in a row. On Friday, he scored 28 points against the Pistons in a 108–102 win. Booker had a tough shooting night, making just 8 of 27 shots.

The Utah were one of the NBA’s surprise teams in the first few weeks of the season, starting with a 10-3 record. Jazz is only 3-7 from now on.

“One game, one stretch of season doesn’t define your season.” Jazz Forward Kelly Olynyk said. “You have to go through ups and downs. Adversity – learn from it and come out of it in the best way.

The Suns are 11-1 at home this season and have won four games in a row.

Jordan Clarkson scored 22 for jazz. Colleen Sexton added 20 so far Lauri Markkanen scored 15 points and 10 rebounds.

By halftime, the Jazz had a 54–51 lead. Clarkson led the Jazz with 12 points while Ayton had 11 points and seven rebounds.

It was a matchup between two of the NBA’s top five players and two guys too early for this season’s MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic.

Doncic again led the Mavericks with 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting plus 12 assists.

Antetokounmpo was a force of nature, scoring 30 points on 11 of 19 shots plus 11 rebounds, plus he had more help around him to lead the Bucks to a 124-115 win.

There is a mutual admiration society between the two players, and after the game, Doncic named Antetokounmpo the best player in the NBA. Via Jack Maloney on CBS Sports.

“Enjoy [competing against him] it’s hard because I want to win, so it’s hard to play against a guy like that,” Doncic said after the Mavericks’ fourth loss in a row. “Now he is the best player in the NBA. It’s almost impossible to stop him. It’s a lot of fun to watch him play, but it’s not as fun to play against him.”

Antetokounmpo also praised Doncic.

“That’s a great compliment and I appreciate it,” Antetokounmpo said. “When you play against the best players in the league, it’s nice to be able to say something like that. It doesn’t matter if it’s victory or defeat, just the respect of colleagues is always nice.”

We have many years of these two players testing each other, and someday Antetokounmpo may call Doncic the best in the NBA.

Three Things is NBC’s five-day coverage of last night in the NBA. Verify Every weekday morning for what you missed the night before, plus the gossip, drama, and dunks that make the NBA a must-watch.

1) Warriors start looking like Warriors again

About that slow start in the Bay Area…

In the past 11 games, the Golden State Warriors are 8-3, in the league’s top 10 on offense and defense, and have a +4.5 net rating (fourth in the league this stretch). The latest win was a 137-114 sweep of the stumbling Timberwolves on Sunday, a game in which the Warriors won by more than 20 points in the first quarter and never truly threatened again.

“I think we’re starting to put it together, and if we can keep building at this rate, you know, we’ll be ready to launch pretty soon here,” Draymond Green said.

All Warriors season Stephen Curry play at the MVP level, carry the team. So what has changed in the past few weeks at the Warriors? Three things.

First, Steve Kerr started to rotate the rotation and split Green and Curry’s minutes a bit, something he’d tried not to do in the past. It’s one of the ways Kerr dealt with the fact that the Warriors’ bench had a hard time (getting Donte Di Vincenzo healthy helped too) Now Curry stays in the game for the entire first quarter while Greene gets his first rest around the five minute mark, then Curry sits down to start the second and Greene comes back to play with more benches (both stars finish the quarter together on the court).

“I’ve been saying for years that Draymond is the heart of our team,” Kerr said. “He’s the guy who kind of makes everything go and he’s a motivator, he’s a bully, he protects his teammates on the floor, he’s talking nonsense. But this guy is so good at basketball.”

Second, the Warriors solved the bench problem in a different way: Kerr shortened the “two timelines” experiment. The idea was that the roles Otto Porter and Gary Payton Jr filled last season could be filled with a young trio James Wiseman, Moses Moodyas well as Jonathan Cuminga. This plan failed miserably. Wiseman dropped out of the G-League and Moody dropped out of the rotation. Kuminga is picking up pace – he played well against the Timberwolves, but he’s had his ups and downs this season.

“I think that we have decided on some roles, the guys are now comfortable when they play with who they will play with. So I think it was helpful,” Kerr said.

Thirdly, Clay Thompson found legs. He kept saying he needed more time and whether it was the spark ignited by Charles Barkley or Thompson getting off social media and out of his head, it worked. In his last 10 games, Thompson is averaging 20.8 points per game and shooting 46.2% of 3. He doesn’t defend like he used to (and probably never again), but he is once again the second-best scorer on the elite team.

Green would add one…