Devin Booker had 40 factors, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his first profession triple-double and the Phoenix Suns overcame Chris Paul’s absence to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 120-114 on Sunday in Sport 1 of the Western Convention finals.
Paul sat out due to COVID-19 well being and security protocols. Clippers star Kawhi Leonard missed his third straight sport due to a sprained proper knee.
Tied at 93 to start out the fourth, the Suns went on a 12-2 run and pulled forward 105-95 on Cam Johnson’s dunk with 8:08 remaining. The Clippers would not go away, although, chopping a 10-point deficit within the remaining two minutes to 116-114 when Terance Mann hit a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left.
Booker scored on a dunk on the subsequent possession to seal Phoenix’s seventh straight victory, getting a free lane to the basket on the blown defensive protection.
Sport 2 is on Tuesday evening in Phoenix.
Booker was productive and environment friendly in one in every of his finest video games of his profession. He shot 15 of 29 from the sector, carving aside a protection that needed to play simply 36 hours after closing out the Utah Jazz on Friday evening.
The third quarter featured a stellar scoring duel between Booker and L.A.’s Paul George, who completed with 34 factors. Booker scored 18 factors within the quarter, and George had 15, together with a 3-pointer that tied it at 93 heading to the fourth.
The Suns led 76-68 halfway by means of the third however George scored eight straight factors — together with six factors on two lengthy 3-pointers — to tie it up. It was the beginning of a 16-2 run that helped Los Angeles take an 84-78 lead.
Booker and the Suns responded rapidly. Booker scored 12 factors — totally on mid-range jumpers — within the remaining 3:09 of the third to get Phoenix again on observe.
Deandre Ayton had 20 factors and 9 rebounds for the Suns. Cameron Payne began for Paul and had 11 factors and 9 assists.
Reggie Jackson added 24 factors for the Clippers.
The sport was a uncommon stage for each franchises: The Clippers are within the Western Convention finals for the primary time in franchise historical past, whereas the Suns haven’t been this far in 11 years and have by no means received an NBA title.
The Clippers obtained a lift from veteran massive man Demarcus Cousins within the second quarter. He got here into the sport and virtually instantly threw down a monster dunk over Dario Saric. He scored 11 factors on 4-of-6 taking pictures in his first 5 minutes on the court docket.
The gifted however oft-injured Cousins has solely performed in two playoff video games this season. The four-time All-Star averaged 7.8 factors in 16 common season video games with the Clippers this season.
Suns basic supervisor James Jones was named the NBA’s Government of the Yr on Sunday. Staff President Robert Sarver shocked Jones with the announcement in a brief ceremony at midcourt a couple of minutes earlier than tipoff.
Jones got here to the crew two years in the past and has helped construct the Valley’s finest crew in 11 seasons. His massive transfer was including Paul in the course of the offeseason however he is additionally made different key strikes, like including Payne, Torrey Craig and drafting Cameron Johnson.
He obtained a giant ovation from the sellout crowd of 16,583.
The low-key Jones was a person of few phrases when handed the microphone by Sarver, thanking the gang after which including one sentence.
“All I can say is ”Go Suns, let’s win,” Jones mentioned.
Clippers: Leonard and ahead Serge Ibaka (again surgical procedure) did not play. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue mentioned on Saturday that Leonard was getting remedy on his knee in Los Angeles and wasn’t certain about his availability in Sport 2.
Suns: Paul and ahead Abdel Nader (proper knee arthroscopy) did not play. Suns coach Monty Williams mentioned Paul’s state of affairs is “day-to-day.”
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