Suns ride Devin Booker’s sizzling performance into clash vs. Cavs

Devin Booker is attempting to shoot the Phoenix Suns into a top-six playoff spot in the Western Conference.

After his eighth career 50-point outing, he will lead the Suns as they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

Booker scored 52 points and knocked down a career-best eight 3-pointers as Phoenix (44-31) recorded a 124-111 road win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.

He was 19 of 28 overall from the field and also notched nine assists in a superb all-around effort as the Suns completed a 3-2 road trip.

The victory pulled Phoenix within one game of the Pelicans (45-30) and Dallas Mavericks (45-30) in the battle for the final two playoff spots in the West. The Suns host New Orleans on Sunday.

However, the Sacramento Kings (44-31) hold the tiebreaker edge over the Suns, so Phoenix has little margin for error down the stretch.

Booker has recorded three straight 50-point outings against the Pelicans. He joins Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to post three straight 50-point efforts against the same opponent.

“Any time you get named for something Wilt did — it’s happened very few times in my career — you know you did something special,” Booker said.

Booker scored just 31 total points in the previous two games before breaking out big against New Orleans.

Wednesday’s contest is the opener of a four-game homestand. Phoenix then closes the regular season with three straight road games.

The Suns have won nine of their past 14 games and hope to finish off a two-game season sweep of the Cavaliers.

Phoenix recovered from a 19-point deficit to post a 117-111 victory in Cleveland on March 11. Kevin Durant led the Suns with 37 points while Darius Garland scored 30 for the Cavaliers.

Cleveland (46-30) resides in third place in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers are 1 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks and 1 1/2 games ahead of the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks.

Cleveland is 1-1 on a five-game road trip after knocking off the Utah Jazz 129-113 on Tuesday night. The Cavaliers prevailed despite star guard Donovan Mitchell missing the game due to a left knee injury.

Caris LeVert led Cleveland with 26 points, while Jarrett Allen had 21 points and 12 rebounds. Evan Mobley also scored 21 points.

Allen was 8-of-11 from the field and Mobley made 9-of-14 shots.

“That’s who they are,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of his post duo. “I thought Jarrett set the tone and was physical in the interior on both sides of the ball.

“I thought he was dynamic and so was Evan. Our bigs are elite when they catch the ball in the pocket. They can make all the plays.”

Backup Sam Merrill played 32 minutes with Mitchell out and scored 18 points on six 3-pointers. Merrill is a former Utah State star who grew up in Bountiful, a suburb just north of Salt Lake City.

“It was a lot of fun,” Merrill said. “I haven’t been this nervous for a game in a while. I made some shots, I could have made a couple more. We just needed to get a win and we got another one coming up (against Phoenix).”

The victory halted a four-game road skid for the Cavaliers.

Mitchell is expected to play Wednesday on the second end of the back-to-back.

Suns sharpshooter Grayson Allen (hip) is questionable.

–Field Level Media