January 05, 2015

Six straight seasons missing the playoffs is a team record for the Phoenix Suns. At least Devin Booker's emergence has them feeling good heading into next season.

Booker looks to cap the highest scoring month by a Suns rookie in 38 years as they try to halt a three-game skid Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The only win Phoenix (20-54) can hope for in May involves the draft lottery, and the Suns could end up with their best chance to win the first overall selection for the first time.

Booker, the 13th pick out of Kentucky in last summer's draft, is turning into Phoenix's best offensive threat. He's averaging 13.3 points on the season to rank fifth all-time among Suns rookies, closing in on Amar'e Stoudemire's 13.5 from 2002-03.

The guard, though, is averaging 22.7 points this month for the best production in a month by a Phoenix rookie since Walter Davis had 25.1 in March 1978.

Booker is trying to win Western Conference Rookie of the Month, an award won by former Wildcats teammate Karl-Anthony Towns of Minnesota in each month this season.

"I told him, 'Let me get one Rookie of the Month (award), at least,'" Booker told the team's official website. "He's taking all of them!"

Stoudemire is the last Suns rookie to win the award in April 2003, but Booker is making his case with 26.3 points per game over the last four. However, his 30 points weren't enough against the Timberwolves on Monday since Towns countered with 27 while adding 10 rebounds and five assists to drop the Suns 121-116.

Brandon Knight matched Booker's 30 points while hitting a career-high seven 3-pointers. He's averaging 24.7 over his last three games. The guard is returning to Milwaukee (30-44) for the first time since averaging 17.9 points over 124 games from 2013-15 before being dealt to Phoenix at last year's trade deadline.

Knight had nine points and Booker added seven off the bench in a 101-95 loss to the Bucks on Dec. 20. The Suns, though, have won seven of their last nine in Milwaukee.

The Bucks, who are also missing the playoffs, have dropped five games in a row after opening this five-game homestand with a 115-91 loss to Charlotte.

Like Booker for Phoenix, Giannis Antetokounmpo is giving Milwaukee hope for improvement in the future. The 21-year-old forward is averaging 16.6 points, ranking behind Kris Middleton's team-high 18.1.

Antetokounmpo, though, has only made 8 of 23 from the floor while totaling 19 points over the last two games after averaging 20.6 on 52.5 percent shooting over the previous 12.

He missed the last meeting with the Suns with knee soreness, but Middleton had 27 points and seven assists. Middleton, who is averaging 10.7 points in his last three games, was averaging 14.7 over the three prior meetings with Phoenix.

Middleton joined Milwaukee from Detroit as part of the trade that landed Knight before the 2013-14 season.

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