Tar Heels in NBA: Cameron Johnson has best game of season in Suns’ 18th consecutive victory

By R.L. Bynum

Heading into another showdown Friday night on ESPN with the Golden State Warriors, the Phoenix Suns are still rolling.

Cameron Johnson may not be at the top of the Warriors’ scouting report but he was a key contributor as the Suns rolled past the Detroit Pistons 114–103 Thursday night for their franchise-record 18th consecutive victory.

Johnson scored a team-high-tying 19 points in 27 minutes with his best game score of the season at 18. Johnson tied his season-high with four 3-pointers, which he also had in his career-high 22-point game against Denver on Nov. 21 when he put up his best previous season game score of 16.2.

He had four game scores of more than 16 in his first two seasons and only one last season, but has two already this season.

“It was pretty cool, right,” Johnson said. “It’s a group that’s come a long way and it’s a group that’s a lot of fun to play with. Coaches that are fun to play for. A city that’s fun to play in front of. So, just that shared, collective enjoyment of this process has been great.” 

Against the Pistons, Johnson pulled down six rebounds (only topped this season by seven on Nov. 12 against Memphis), dished out two assists and blocked a shot.

Johnson hasn’t started a game for Phoenix this season and arguably should be starting ahead of Jae Crowder. Johnson is averaging 9.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in 22.9 minutes while Crowder is at 8.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 27.7 minutes.

Their combined 17.9 points, though, has been productive for the Suns.

Even though the Suns will be playing on consecutive nights, Johnson says they’ll be ready for the rematch against Golden State, which they defeated 104–96 on Tuesday night.

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“It’s no question on that,” Johnson said. “A team that we just played and we beat at home. We get to go to their place. Division game. This is a lot on the line. This is what playing in the NBA is about. Going into these environments with these implications and, granted, it’s a December game. But it means a lot. It means a lot to us to continue this streak. It’s going to be a fun one.”

The teams have the best records in the league with Phoenix 19–3 and Golden State 18–3. The Suns are 3½ games ahead of the Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets (15–6).


It was a light night for Tar Heels, with Coby White out on NBA health-and-safety protocols for Chicago’s 119–115 win at New York. Tony Bradley didn’t get into the game for the Bulls.


Nassir Little missed Portland’s 114–83 home loss to San Antonio with a sprained left ankle.

Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic guard
Off Thursday
Season statistics — 17 games, 19.9 points, 42.1 FG%, 35.9 3FG%, 86.6 FT%, 6.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists
Up next — 8 p.m. Friday at Houston; 10 p.m. Monday at Golden State
———————————————
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings forward
Off Thursday
Season statistics —
19 games, 19.0 points, 47.8 FG%, 39.8 3FG%, 84.6 FT%, 7.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists
Up next — 10 p.m. Saturday vs. Los Angeles Clippers; 10 p.m. Wednesday vs. Orlando
———————————————
Tony Bradley, Chicago Bulls center
119–115 win at New York —
Didn’t play (coach’s decision)
Season statistics — 17 games, 3.6 points, 55.8 FG%, 4.2 rebounds, 0.4 of an assist
Up next — 7:30 Saturday at Brooklyn; 8 p.m. Monday vs. Denver
———————————————
Reggie Bullock, Dallas Mavericks guard/forward
Off Thursday
Season statistics —
19 games, 5.6 points, 35.7 FG%, 28.8 3P%, 57.1 FT%, 2.8 rebounds, 0.7 of an assist
Up next —
8:30 Friday vs. New Orleans; 8:30 p.m. Saturday vs. Memphis
———————————————
Ed Davis, Cleveland Cavaliers center
Off Thursday
Season statistics —
8 games, 1.9 points, 70.0 FG%, 50.0 FT%, 3.5 rebounds, 0.1 of an assist
Up next — 7 p.m. Friday at Washington; 3:30 p.m. Sunday vs. Utah
———————————————
Wayne Ellington, Los Angeles Lakers guard
Off Thursday
Season statistics —
14 games, 6.7 points, 40.2 FG%, 39.5 3FG%, 1.6 rebounds, 0.7 of an assist
Up next — 10 p.m. Friday vs. Los Angeles Clippers, ESPN; 10 p.m. Tuesday vs. Boston, TNT
———————————————
Danny Green, Philadelphia 76ers forward
Off Thursday
Season statistics — 15 games, 7.7 points, 46.5 FG%, 41.9 3FG%, 4–4 FT, 2.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists
Up next — 7:30 Friday at Atlanta, ESPN; 7 p.m. Monday at Charlotte, FSSE
———————————————
Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns wing
114–103 win vs. Detroit —
27 minutes, 19 points, 7–11 FG, 4–6 3FG, 1–2 FT, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, +9
Season statistics —
22 games, 9.2 points, 42.6 FG%, 40.6 3FG%, 3.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists
Up next — 10 p.m. Friday at Golden State; 9 p.m. Monday vs. San Antonio
———————————————
Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers wing
11483 loss vs. San Antonio
— Missed game with a sprained left ankle
Season statistics — 21 games, 8.3 points, 47.8 FG%, 31.7 3P%, 82.8 FT%, 5.3 rebounds, 0.8 of an assist
Up next — 10 p.m. Saturday vs. Boston; 10 p.m. Monday vs. Los Angeles Clippers
———————————————
Day’Ron Sharpe, Brooklyn Nets center
Off Thursday
Season NBA statistics — 8 games, 2.6 points, 52.9 FG%, 33.3% 3P%, 2–5 FT, 2.1 rebounds
Season G League statistics — 2 games, 15.5 points, 4–12 FG, 40.9 3P%, 71.4 FT%, 12.5 rebounds, 4 steals, 6 blocks
Up next — 7:30 p.m. Friday vs. Minnesota; 7:30 p.m. Saturday vs. Chicago
———————————————
Coby White, Chicago Bulls guard
119–115 win at New York —
Out under NBA health-and-safety protocols after testing positive for COVID-19, although fully vaccinated
Season statistics — 9 games, 6.1 points, 34.9 FG%, 22.6 3P%, 2.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists
Up next — 7:30 Saturday at Brooklyn; 8 p.m. Monday vs. Denver
———————————————
In G League
Justin Jackson, Texas Legends (Mavericks affiliate) forward
Season statistics — 6 games, 22.5 points, 49.0% FG, 44.6% 3FG, 72.7 FT%, 8.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.7 of a steal
Up next — 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11 vs. Austin Spurs
———————————————
Theo Pinson, Maine Celtics guard
Season statistics —
8 games, 19.1 points, 48.1 FG%, 44.4 3FG%, 89.5 FT%, 4.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.4 steals
Up next — 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9 and 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11 vs. Raptors 905
———————————————

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