NBA

Durant, Paul lead Suns to seventh win in a row, Thunder cling onto last play-in spot

By Sports Desk April 07, 2023

The Phoenix Suns have clinched the fourth seed in the Western Conference after defeating the undermanned Denver Nuggets 119-115 on Thursday.

The victory was Phoenix's seventh in a row, having been ignited by the return of Kevin Durant for their past five fixtures after he missed over three weeks of action in March.

Durant has personally not played in a loss since January 5, winning his last two games for the Brooklyn Nets before being traded while injured, and he has won all eight Suns games he has suited up for.

He was again the key against the Nuggets, scoring a team-high 29 points on nine-of-18 shooting, including six-of-10 from three-point range, while adding seven rebounds and four assists in an eyebrow-raising 41 minutes as head coach Monty Williams gave his star extended run.

Chris Paul was terrific in support, tying his regular season career-high with seven made three-pointers on the way to 25 points (nine-of-15 shooting) and only one turnover.

Devin Booker was the primary playmaker for the Suns, racking up eight assists, but it was also due to a poor shooting night where he finished three-of-12 from the field for his 15 points.

Despite the loss – where starters Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope sat out – Bruce Brown showed why he will have a key role in the playoffs as he put up 31 points (11-of-18 shooting), six rebounds and four assists as the stand-in top option.

Thunder hang on to final play-in spot

The Oklahoma City Thunder kept their playoff hopes alive with a 114-98 road win against the Utah Jazz, denying the Dallas Mavericks for the time being.

If the Thunder had lost, they would have slipped to 38-43 and been overtaken by the 38-42 Mavs, but they instead rode a terrific team effort to victory as seven Oklahoma City players scored in double-figures.

The result leaves the Thunder a half-game clear of the Mavericks in the race for the Western Conference's 10th seed, with OKC's last game of the season to come at home against the Memphis Grizzlies, while Dallas will host the Chicago Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs to close out their regular season.

Miami bring the heat to Philadelphia

The Philadelphia 76ers had almost nothing to play for against the Miami Heat, and it showed, with the visitors collecting a 129-101 road triumph.

Miami (43-37) still have a small chance at avoiding the play-in tournament if they can overtake the Brooklyn Nets (44-36) in the final stages, and they got the job done in Philadelphia thanks to Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro.

Butler was rock-solid with an equal team-high 24 points on nine-of-12 shooting, adding six assists, while Herro shot seven-of-17 for his 24 points and five assists.

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