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Suns Relish Knight’s First Triple-Double

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX — Brandon Knight was about 40 feet from the basket when he got the rebound needed for his first career triple-double.

As he picked up the ball, teammate Eric Bledsoe leapt from the Suns bench and waved a white towel, leading his teammates in the celebration.

“We root for each other,” Knight said of his team.

“We really are brothers.”

The family Sun has had quite a week.

Knight tied a career high with 37 points in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday. Bledsoe had a double-double against the Clippers before adding 30 points in a blowout over Denver on Saturday.
Then this, in a 120-101 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.

Knight’s first career triple-double included 30 points, a career-high 15 assists and 10 rebounds. He made three treys, and his four steals pushed him into a very select group.

Pete Maravich, Magic Johnson and Russell Westbrook are the only other players who have had 30 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds and four steals in a game, according to Elias, since steals became an official statistic in 1973-74.

Knight reached his double-double on the first possession of the fourth quarter when T.J. Warren hit a mid-range jumper on a pass from Knight.
The 10th rebound came with about 4:30 remaining, after Archie Goodwin’s missed three-pointer and the ball bounced to Knight as he moved in from the halfcourt line on the left side of the floor.

“I could just stand there at mid-court,” he said. “I wish I could get 10 more like that. That’s how the ball bounces sometimes.”

The Suns, who lead with their guards in any case, took the game to the inexperienced Lakers’ backcourt tandem of rookie D’Angelo Russell and second-year player Jordan Clarkson. Knight and Bledsoe, together for the first full season, had 51 points on 19-of-39 shooting, made five 3-pointers and 18 assists.

It is the sort of production the Suns hoped when joining their future to the two this spring when Knight signed a five-year, $70 million contract. Bledsoe signed the same deal the summer before.

“We feel that one of those guys is going to have an advantage” every night, Suns coach Jeff Hornacek. “Maybe one night it will be Eric, one night it will be Brandon. We’ll try to take advantage of the matchups and who’s rolling and just them go.”

The Suns put the game away early in the fourth quarter when most of the starters were on the bench. Forward T. J. Warren had 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, and guard Archie Goodwin had seven of his 12 in the fourth. Knight had 10, including a stretching one-handed scoop shot over Julius Randle.

“It was a team effort,” Knight said. “It is not just about the backcourt. It is about all five. All five stepped up tonight. It was a real test for our team, just being able to continue to be consistent, and we did that.”
It was the sort of game that tripped up the Suns last season, at home, against a beatable opponent.

The Suns lost November home games to Charlotte, Sacramento, Orlando and Detroit last season, none of whom finished with more than 33 victories. While they finished six games out of the playoffs, turn a couple of those games around, and things might have been different down the stretch.

It did not help that Knight missed 16 of the Suns’ final 17 games with an ankle injury incurred just a few weeks after he was acquired from Milwaukee as the Suns looked to retool for the future.
Hornacek said he will know that Knight is completely healthy from offseason ankle surgery when he dunks. Until then, career scoring highs and triple doubles will have to do.

Knight has not hidden the fact that he is not quite back from spring ankle surgery, but the Los Angeles Lakers could join the growing group of opponents who might not be buying that story.

“It’s going to be a continuous process, just continuing to get treatment and get better,” Knight said. “Nobody wants to have surgery, but it’s part of the game. I’m open about it, but I don’t make excuses. For me, it’s just about continuing to get better and continuing to jell with my teammates.”

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