SAN ANTONIO – They escaped on the road.
The Suns earned their 13th straight victory, 115-111, Monday night in San Antonio after nearly losing a 15-point lead with less than five minutes left at the AT&T Center.
Devin Booker led the Suns (14-3) with 23 while Deandre Ayton recorded a double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds as the Suns are four wins away from tying the franchise record of 17 consecutive wins set in the during the 2006-07 season. .
This one reminded me of last week’s narrow 99-96 victory over Minnesota, another under .500 team. Spurs (4-12) reduced the score to three after Dejounte Murray’s strip against Chris Paul and scored with 15.2 seconds left.
The Suns ended the game with 15 turnovers that led Spurs to 22 points.
Lonnie Walker IV forced a jump ball on Devin Booker in the ensuing incoming play.
Booker would split two free throws to make the final four difference.
Here are five takeaways from the Suns’ second-in-a-row victory.
1. The Suns showed once again, on a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter, taking a 110-95 lead with 4:20 to go, the ability to create, to come apart late with shots from clutch, run and bustle.
102-95 Suns: Paul finds Ayton for the inner bucket after Jae Crowder drew defense to the corner to take a look at 3.
104-95 Suns: Mikal Bridges flees for the transition layup.
107-95 Suns: Bridges offensive rebound on the 3 misses and Paul’s retreat. Bridges suffered a foul on a shot and took a free throw as those were his only points of the night.
110-95 Suns: Booker 3.
Now Spurs were part of that equation as they shot 0 to 4 in that run, Murray missing an open 3 on his night’s triple double of 18 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, but Phoenix managed to a pivotal moment in the game.
2. The rotations looked like a playoff game.
With Abdel Nader (knee injury management) absent, Monty Williams had a three guard lineup with Devin Booker, Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet.
At 6-5, Booker is big enough to play 3. When he plays off the ball it creates instant separation for Payne and Shamet to be aggressive.
Then they had another lineup of Shamet, Payne, Cam Johnson and JaVale McGee playing with Bridges. Williams therefore has a starter with four reservations.
Now the Ayton-McGee rotation has remained, but expect to see more than nine men moving forward even when Nader returns.
3. Ayton has shown different elements in his game.
He grounded the ball on the small roller, rigged the pass to Booker and fouled to the basket and sealed the defender to receive a pass down the lane for two.
Now none of those moves off the bounce were smooth.
He then returned the ball looking to dribble, but the more capable he is of scoring outside of the lobs, the harder the Suns could be to defend.
4. The Spurs caused problems for Phoenix with their activity on the offensive glass, but they just couldn’t get a shot from the depth or the line.
San Antonio shot 5 of 20 of 3, 8 of 16 on free throws and still only lost by fours.
Spurs still play with the same effort that made these Championship teams special. They did enough for Williams to call the time out in part out of frustration with his own team, but Spurs were part of that equation.
However, San Antonio currently has no Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Tony Parker or Manu Ginobilis.
Murray is nice. Like Devin Vassell, but Spurs need big stallions to come here to get things going.
5. Williams challenged the bench after the breakout in Sacramento.
This unit has made amends ever since.
They closed Denver on Monday to give starters essential rest before the second game in a row as Johnson scored a career-high 22 points.
One night later, Payne dropped 20.
Now Williams had to come back to the starters in the fourth, but Payne and Shamet set the table for the starters to shut down Spurs.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 5 takeaways from Spurs’ dramatic road win at Spurs to win 13th in a row