'Miss him': Devin Booker (ankle) probable for start of Phoenix Suns' 4-game road trip

CLEVELAND – Phoenix Suns superstar Kevin Durant just finished scoring a season-high 45 points in an 117-107 loss Saturday night to NBA-leader Boston at Footprint Center.

He addressed the details of the outcome, his six turnovers and how the Celtics (49-14) defended the Suns (37-27) in snapping their two-game win streak.

Then Durant was asked about his All-Star teammate Devin Booker’s much anticipated return from a right ankle sprain during a four-game road trip that starts Monday in Cleveland.

Head nod, but make sure Booker’s good, though.

“Another guy that can create for himself and for others,” Durant said. “Phenomenal leader. Somebody we look to all game. I’m excited to get him back, but definitely don’t want to rush him back. It’s an important part of the season and we need him as healthy as possible. If we can buy a couple more hours, a couple more days for him to get right, we definitely could do that, but we miss him out on the floor.”

Booker is listed as probable against the Cavaliers (41-22) after missing Phoenix’s last four games. The Suns went 2-2 during that stretch as they lost to Oklahoma City (44-19), won at defending NBA champion Denver (44-20) in overtime and cruised by Toronto (23-41) before losing to the Celtics.

The four-time All-Star went through an “extensive workout” Saturday morning as Suns coach Frank Vogel put it, was listed as questionable, but didn’t play against Boston.

“Trying to get it loosened up, but it’s not quite there,” said Vogel before Saturday’s game about Booker, who also did a pregame workout.

The Suns are thankful Booker has reached this point when considering how bad it looked when he went down March 2 with the injury. Booker stepped on teammate Royce O’Neale’s left ankle trying to defend Rockets guard Fred VanVleet late in an 118-109 loss.

In obvious pain, Booker went down and grabbed at his ankle, got up and immediately headed to the Suns locker room hobbled. The X-rays came up negative on the ankle, but sources informed The Arizona Republic on Monday that Booker’s time range to return was between five and 14 days with five days being best case and 14 days being worst case.

Looks like he’ll be back sooner than later.

“Pleasantly surprised,” Vogel said. “"We're happy with where he's at. We don't think it's going to be too much longer. When you first see it, you never know how bad the ankle is going to be. Those things can last three or four weeks at times. So hopefully, he's close.”

Eric Gordon (left knee contusion), Nassir Little (left knee inflammation), Josh Okogie (lower abdominal strain) are out for Monday’s game as is Damion Lee (knee), who hasn’t played all season. Vogel said Gordon aggravated his knee in Saturday’s game while Little received a PRP injection in his knee last week.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with his knee, but something happened to his knee,” Vogel said. “He had to come out (with 1:54 left in the game).”

Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal (3) yells out to the referee for a foul call as Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) defends at Footprint Center.
Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal (3) yells out to the referee for a foul call as Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) defends at Footprint Center.

Little has missed Phoenix’s last six games while Okogie has been sidelined the last four. This will be the second of a back-to-back for Cleveland. The Cavaliers had six players ruled out for Sunday's home game against Brooklyn in Donovan Mitchell (knee), Evan Mobley (ankle), Max Strus (knee), Tristan Thompson (league suspension), Dean Wade (personal reasons) and former Suns guard Ty Jerome (ankle surgery).

If the Cavs go into Monday's game this short handed, this becomes a very winnable game for the Suns, especially if Booker is back in the fold. Phoenix has two days between Monday’s game and Thursday’s rematch between the Celtics. They continue the road trip Friday against Charlotte (16-48) and conclude it Sunday versus Milwaukee (42-23).

Whenever Booker returns, he’ll likely be on a minute restriction. Averaging 27.5 points and 6.8 assists, Booker has missed 14 games this season with multiple injuries.

Seventh in the West, Phoenix could certainly use him now in facing the NBA’s toughest remaining schedule. They play Cleveland, Minnesota (44-20), the Los Angeles Clippers (41-22) and New Orleans (38-25) twice and battle Boston, OKC, Milwaukee, Denver, Philadelphia (35-28) and Sacramento (36-26) one more time.

Phoenix is coming off a 10-point loss to Boston in which Durant and Beal accounted for 70 of the team’s 107 points. Beal scored 25 as he’s being used more as a point guard with Booker sidelined.

“To be without a 30-point scorer out there, to have Grayson (Allen) have a bad night, did not really shoot the ball great, we were still in the ball game,” said Suns 7-footer Jusuf Nurkic, who posted a double of 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes.

Allen shot 0-for-4 from deep in scoring seven points Saturday after hitting eight 3s in each of Phoenix’s two previous games.

“No disrespect, they’re having a great season, have great players, but we don’t feel, oh wow, we played the greatest team out there," Nurkic continued. "I still think we have the best team in the league as far as playoffs. We just got to get there.”

Have opinions about the current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Devin Booker probable for start of Phoenix Suns' road trip vs. Cavs