'Keep it going': Suns big Deandre Ayton extends career-high run of double-doubles in win over Bulls

Phoenix Suns big Deandre Ayton already loves to laugh.

Bismack Biyombo made him really chuckle with what he first said about his teammate’s 30-point, 14-rebound performance in Wednesday’s 132-113 win over Chicago at Footprint Center.

“Garbage,” said a joking Biyombo as his locker is near Ayton’s. “His performance tonight, garbage man. I have to yell from the bench, DA, run back on defense.”

Then Biyombo turned serious and gave Ayton full props for another dominant display.

“Lately, he has been playing great,” Biyombo continued. “It’s good for the team. I think setting the tone early for us has been really key to us winning because he also sets the stage for the game. Just credit to everybody around him and the coaches for the game plan. I think we have a really good trust in the locker room, trust the guys, trusting the game plan and then following the game plan is another thing. Overall, he’s playing at an extremely high level and now he’s just got to stay at it.”

Nov 30, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) scores past Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) in the second half at Footprint Center.
Nov 30, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) scores past Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) in the second half at Footprint Center.

Ayton extended his career-best streak of double-doubles to seven in a row on Wednesday with a season high in points.

“Just doing what I was supposed to do,” Ayton said. “Not taking plays off. Putting pressure on the rim and just finishing my rolls to the rim to try to get my hands on (offensive) boards. Just close out possessions on the defensive end.”

During this seven-game stretch in which the Suns have won a season-high six in row, Ayton is doing major damage in averaging 21.1 points on 67% shooting and 13.6 rebounds.

“I love it, I love it,” Suns All-Star Devin Booker said. “Let’s keep it going. That’s what I’m talking about.”

Booker's epic 51-point night nearly overshadowed Ayton's 30 and 14 effort, but the two made history in becoming the first Suns tandem to have one player score at least 50 and the other put up 30 in a single game.

Nov 30, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) and center Deandre Ayton (22) teamed up for 81 points against the Chicago Bulls at Footprint Center.
Nov 30, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) and center Deandre Ayton (22) teamed up for 81 points against the Chicago Bulls at Footprint Center.

"There were certain moments in the game were those two had it going, especially on the right side of the basket in the first half," Suns coach Monty Williams said. "We played a two-man game and it was a pretty cool to watch them, whether it was a DHO (dribble handoff) or he threw it to Book and Book came off a pick-and-roll and shot it or DA found him for a back door, like that was pretty cool to watch."

Ayton certainly set the tone once again with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first quarter as Phoenix led 32-25 after one, but he took pride in helping the Suns finish off the Bulls.

Playing with force and confidence, Ayton scored 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting in the fourth. He made all four of his free throws in finishing 8-of-9 from the line for the game.

“There’s a little thing in the league where you see a comfortable position and some teams tend to get some type of momentum going in those minutes,” Ayton said. “I’m glad coach put me in to really shut it all down and just seal the deal and just finish off the game the right way.”

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Receiving his first Western Conference player of the week honor ever Monday, Ayton has established season highs not only in points in three of his last four games, but also in the number of free throws he’s attempted and made in a game.

  • vs. Detroit – 28 points (6-of-7 FTs).

  • vs. Utah – 29 points (7-of-9 FTs).

  • at Sacramento – 17 points (1-of-2 FTs).

  • vs. Chicago – 30 points (8-of-9 FTs).

Getting to the line is just as much a part of Ayton’s scoring uptick as anything else. His career high for free throws made and attempted in a game is 10 and 14, respectively.

“I think over the long haul the guys that work, sooner or later, it’s going to pay off for you,” Williams said. “He’s certainly gotten himself into the kind of shape that it takes for a guy to put up these kinds of numbers, I think that’s part of it too. There are probably a few other variables I’m missing but I think when you put the work in, you run into nights like this or moments like this during the season and I think that’s something that he should be proud of but not satisfied with.”

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Ayton came out the game to a resounding ovation from the sellout crowd of 17,071 and was receiving congratulatory mid-fives until he came face-to-face with Chris Paul.

Missing his 11th straight game with a sore right heel, Paul had a few words for his big man.

“He was telling me when I had 28 points, why did I kick the ball out,” Ayton said, referring to a play where Ayton found Torrey Craig for 3 to give the Suns a 128-106 advantage with 2:12 left in the game.

“He was getting on me a little bit. I said, ‘Man, those dudes chopping me hard dude. I don’t know what you want me to do.’ I kicked it out. T-Craig made the 3, though. I needed that.”

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Deandre Ayton keeps rolling with 30 and 14 in Suns win over Bulls