NBA recap: Suns take first place in league playoffs

NBA: Orlando Magic at New Orleans Pelicans
March 9, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) shoots the ball against Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony (50) in the third quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

March 10, 2022

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

Booker finished the tournament with 23 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds, while Phoenix also had 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 duel between the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference (Miami) and the roster leading the Western Conference (Phoenix).

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

Birds of Prey 119, Spurs 104

Fred VanVleet amassed 26 points on his return from five games through injury and Scottie Barnes added 20 points, 18 of them in the second half as the visitor led to a win over San Antonio in Toronto.

The loss kept Spurs coach Gregg Popovich level on points with Don Nelson at 1,335 on the NBA regular-season coaching wins list.

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

Rockets 139, Lakers 130 (OT)

Rookie Jalen Green scored 13 straight Houston points bridging the fourth quarter and overtime, and the Rockets pulled away with a win over the Los Angeles visit.

Green scored a season-high 32 points, but he had ample help as seven Rockets scored in double digits. Co-rookies Josh Christopher and Alperen Sengun each had 21 points, with Sengun adding 14 rebounds to his best total of the season. Kenyon Martin Jr. (17 points, 11 rebounds) also recorded a double-double for Houston, who was missing two starters and coming up with a 2-17 sled.

LeBron James had 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 off the floor, including 17 of 40 (42.5 percent) from 3-point range.

Nuggets 106, Kings 100

Austin Rivers gave Denver a definitive lead with 3:52 minutes remaining, and Nikola Jokic capped a 38-point, 18-rebound performance with an important three-point play as the visiting Nuggets recorded a win over Sacramento.

In the win, Denver took advantage of the suspension of Sacramento standout Domantas Sabonis, who was suspended for a game after being subpoenaed for aggressively assaulting an official 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 win Sacramento’s season series for the second time in four years.

De’Aaron Fox had a team-high 32 points for the Kings. Harrison Barnes assisted Fox with 17 and Trey Lyles with 14 chips to complete nine team-high rebounds.

Hair clipper 115, magician 109

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

Luke Kennard scored 19 points for the Clippers, who won from up to 10 points behind. It was just a shadow of Los Angeles’ 35-point comeback win in Washington on Jan. 25, which made for the second-largest rally in NBA history. Kennard scored seven points in the last nine seconds.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 19 points and Rui Hachimura added 18 as Washington lost for the fourth time in their last six games. The Wizards failed in their bid to win games for the first time in nearly two months, losing away to the Clippers for the 14th straight season.

Buck’s 124, Hawk’s 115

Giannis Antetokounmpo brought up 43 points to lead Milwaukee to a win over the Atlanta visit and extend the Bucks’ winning streak to six games.

The Hawks had no answer for the two-time MVP, who went 15-to-22 off the field and grabbed 12 rebounds. Bobby Portis contributed 23 points and 15 rebounds, and Khris Middleton provided 23 points and eight assists.

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

Celtics 115, Hornets 101

Jayson Tatum amassed 44 points as he recovered from a midgame slip in Boston and ran away from Charlotte.

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

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

Knicks 107, Mavericks 77

Julius Randle scored 26 points for New York, who extended their winning streak to three games by leading wire-to-wire in Dallas.

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

Luka Doncic scored 31 points for the Mavericks, who were struggling hard from the outside after ending their five-game winning streak. Dallas missed his first 19 3-point attempts and finished 6-to-44 (13.6 percent) from beyond the arc.

Bulls 114, Pistons 108

DeMar DeRozan amassed 36 points as the Chicago visit ended a five-game losing streak and continued his 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 an 11th straight season and won the four-game season streak.

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

Timber Wolves 132, Thunder 102

Malik Beasley scored 33 points by averaging a franchise-record 11 3-pointers as Minnesota defeated the Oklahoma City visit and extended his winning streak to six.

Beasley sank 11 of his 17 field goal attempts – all from beyond the arc. Karl-Anthony Towns recorded 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 in 9-for-19 shooting, including a 5-for-8 hit from long range, and he had nine rebounds. Isaiah Roby finished the tournament with 15 points and Darius Bazley scored 14 for Oklahoma City, which lost its fourth straight game.

Magic 108, Pelicans 102

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

Gary Harris added 16 points, Franz Wagner had 15, and Wendell Carter Jr. had 13 for the Magic, who were on a losing streak in two games.

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

Jazz 123, Trailblazer 85

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

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

Trendon Watford scored a team-high 22 points from the bench for the Blazers, who lost their sixth straight game. Five of those losses were 30 or more points.

–Field level media NBA recap: Suns take first place in league playoffs


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