NBA Roundup: Suns Clinch League’s First Playoff Spot

NBA Roundup: Suns Clinch League’s First Playoff Spot
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives the ball around Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) during the first half at FTX Arena in Miami on March 9, 2022. (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports via Field Level Media)
Field Level Media

Devin Booker returned from a four-game COVID-protocol absence and had a near triple-double, helping the Phoenix Suns clinch the NBA’s first playoff spot with a 111–90 win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

Booker finished with 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, while Phoenix also got 21 points from Mikal Bridges and 19 points and 10 rebounds from Deandre Ayton. JaVale McGee added 11 points and a season-high 15 rebounds off the bench.

The game was a matchup between the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference (Miami) and the squad that leads the Western Conference (Phoenix).

Miami, which has won 12 of its past 15 contests, was led by Duncan Robinson (22 points), Tyler Herro (17 points) and Bam Adebayo (17 points). Kyle Lowry added five points and a game-high 10 assists.

Raptors 119, Spurs 104

Fred VanVleet poured in 26 points in his return after a five-game absence because of injury and Scottie Barnes added 20 points, 18 of them in the second half, as visiting Toronto rolled to a win over San Antonio.

The loss kept Spurs coach Gregg Popovich tied with Don Nelson at 1,335 atop the list of career regular-season NBA coaching wins.

Pascal Siakam also scored 20 points for the Raptors, with Gary Trent Jr. hitting for 17 and Precious Achiuwa adding 13 points as Toronto snapped a three-game losing streak. The Spurs’ Keldon Johnson led all scorers with 27 points while Dejounte Murray racked up 25 points and 12 assists.

Rockets 139, Lakers 130 (OT)

Rookie Jalen Green scored 13 consecutive Houston points bridging the fourth quarter and overtime, and the Rockets pulled away for a win over visiting Los Angeles.

Green scored a season-high 32 points but he had ample help as seven Rockets scored in double figures. Fellow rookies Josh Christopher and Alperen Sengun scored 21 points apiece, with Sengun adding 14 rebounds to his season-best point total. Kenyon Martin Jr. (17 points, 11 rebounds) also recorded a double-double for Houston, which was missing two starters and entered on a 2–17 skid.

LeBron James posted his fifth triple-double of the season with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists for Los Angeles. Russell Westbrook added 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but the Lakers allowed the Rockets to shoot 51 percent from the floor, including 17 of 40 (42.5 percent) from 3-point range.

Nuggets 106, Kings 100

Austin Rivers gave Denver the lead for good on a 3-pointer with 3:52 remaining and Nikola Jokic capped a 38-point, 18-rebound performance with a key three-point play as the visiting Nuggets recorded a victory over Sacramento.

In winning, Denver took advantage of the suspension of Sacramento standout Domantas Sabonis, who was banned for one game after being cited for charging aggressively at an official during an ejection in Monday’s home loss to the New York Knicks. Monte Morris saved seven of his 20 points for the final 5:25, helping the Nuggets sweep the season series from Sacramento for the second time in the last four years.

De'Aaron Fox had a team-high 32 points for the Kings. Harrison Barnes backed Fox with 17 and Trey Lyles chipped in with 14 to complement a team-high nine rebounds.

Clippers 115, Wizards 109

Reggie Jackson scored 31 points and Marcus Morris Sr. added 27 as Los Angeles put together yet another rally to defeat visiting Washington.

Luke Kennard scored 19 points for the Clippers, who won after trailing by as many as 10 points. It was mere shades of Los Angeles’ 35-point comeback victory Jan. 25 at Washington, which tied for the second-largest rally in NBA history. Kennard scored seven points in the final nine seconds of that one.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 19 points and Rui Hachimura added 18 as Washington lost for the fourth time in its last six games. The Wizards fell short in their bid to win consecutive games for the first time in nearly two months and lost on the road against the Clippers for the 14th consecutive time.

Bucks 124, Hawks 115

Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in 43 points to lead Milwaukee to a victory over visiting Atlanta to extend the Bucks’ winning streak to six games.

The Hawks had no answer for the two-time MVP, who went 15-for-22 from the field and grabbed 12 rebounds. Bobby Portis chipped in with 23 points and 15 rebounds, and Khris Middleton supplied 23 points and eight assists.

Trae Young led Atlanta with 27 points on 8-of-15 shooting and added 11 assists. De'Andre Hunter chipped in 17 points, Kevin Huerter had 16 and reserve Danilo Gallinari contributed 14.

Celtics 115, Hornets 101

Jayson Tatum pumped in 44 points as visiting Boston recovered from a midgame slide to run away from Charlotte.

Tatum shot 16-for-24 from the field, making 6 of 9 3-point attempts. He was 6-for-6 on free throws. Jaylen Brown racked up 15 points and Marcus Smart had 12 points and nine assists for the Celtics, who won their fourth game in a row.

Boston’s Robert Williams III (11 points, 11 rebounds) and Al Horford (10, 10) both registered double-doubles, and Derrick White added 11 points. P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges scored 17 points apiece for the Hornets.

Knicks 107, Mavericks 77

Julius Randle scored 26 points for New York, which extended its winning streak to three games by leading wire-to-wire at Dallas.

Alec Burks (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Mitchell Robinson (11 points, 11 rebounds) had double-doubles for the Knicks. RJ Barrett (18 points), Taj Gibson (11) and Evan Fournier (10) also scored in double figures.

Luka Doncic scored 31 points for the Mavericks, who struggled badly from outside as their five-game winning streak ended. Dallas missed its first 19 3-point attempts and finished 6-for-44 (13.6 percent) from beyond the arc.

Bulls 114, Pistons 108

DeMar DeRozan pumped in 36 points as visiting Chicago ended a five-game losing streak and continued its dominance over Detroit.

DeRozan made 12 of 25 field goal attempts and 12 of 13 free throws. He added eight rebounds, four assists and two steals as the Bulls defeated the Pistons for the 11th consecutive time and swept the four-game season series.

Cade Cunningham led the Pistons, who had their three-game winning streak snapped, with 22 points and six assists.

Timberwolves 132, Thunder 102

Malik Beasley scored 33 points by making a franchise-record 11 3-pointers as Minnesota beat visiting Oklahoma City to extend its winning streak to six.

Beasley sank 11 of his 17 field-goal attempts—all of them from beyond the arc. Karl-Anthony Towns registered 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves. Taurean Prince scored 17 points off the bench, and Anthony Edwards contributed 16.

Aaron Wiggins led the Thunder with 25 points on 9-for-19 shooting, including 5-for-8 success from long distance, and he grabbed nine rebounds. Isaiah Roby finished with 15 points and Darius Bazley scored 14 for Oklahoma City, which lost its fourth game in a row.

Magic 108, Pelicans 102

Cole Anthony scored 19 points and Terrence Ross had 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter as visiting Orlando held off New Orleans.

Gary Harris added 16 points, Franz Wagner scored 15 and Wendell Carter Jr. had 13 for the Magic, who snapped a two-game losing streak.

CJ McCollum scored 32 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 30 points and 15 rebounds and Herbert Jones scored 15 to lead the Pelicans, who took their third straight loss. New Orleans played its second straight game without leading scorer Brandon Ingram (hamstring).

Jazz 123, Trail Blazers 85

Bojan Bogdanovic continued his hot streak, scoring 27 points with six 3-pointers, to lead Utah to a thumping of Portland in Salt Lake City.

Bogdanovic, who sat out the fourth quarter with the rest of the Jazz starters, sizzled the nets with four treys and 14 points in the third quarter. The forward has averaged 27.7 points on 61.4 percent shooting with 21 3-pointers in the past three games.

Trendon Watford scored a team-high 22 points off the bench for the Blazers, who dropped their sixth consecutive game. Five of those losses have been by 30 or more points.