NBA

NBA: Booker's 52 points lead Suns past Pelicans

By Sports Desk April 01, 2024

Devin Booker racked up 52 points with a prolific shooting display that carried the Phoenix Suns to a 124-111 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday to tighten the Western Conference play-off race.

The win moved Phoenix within one game of New Orleans in the battle for the important No. 6 seed in the West. The top six teams in each conference are guaranteed a spot in the quarter-final round of the post-season, while teams seven through 10 will be forced to compete in the play-in tournament.

Phoenix was able to narrow the gap primarily behind Booker, who finished 19 of 28 from the field and 8 of 16 from 3-point range while adding nine assists.

The Suns also received 19 points and 19 rebounds from Jusuf Nurkic, while Kevin Durant had 20 points to help send the Pelicans to a second straight loss.

Both Booker and the Suns got off to sizzling starts, as the All-Star guard tallied 24 first-quarter points on 8-of-10 shooting during a dominant opening quarter. Seventeen of those points came during a 30-7 run that staked Phoenix to a 44-20 lead with under two minutes to go in the period.

Phoenix ended the first quarter up 46-28 and carried a 74-54 advantage into half-time with Booker amassing 37 points on 14-of-18 shooting over the first two quarters.

The Pelicans trailed by as many as 27 points in the second half but did make a belated push to get back in it, as Zion Williamson sparked an 8-0 run that CJ McCollum capped with a 3-pointer to pull New Orleans within 115-108 with 2:46 left.

That was as close as the Pelicans would get, however, as Booker scored his final two points on a layup with 1:34 to go that gave Phoenix a 119-110 lead.

Williamson paced New Orleans with 30 points and Trey Murphy recorded 21 in the loss. 

Krejci's perfect shooting night helps Hawks down Bulls

Vit Krejci went 6 of 6 from 3-point range for a career-high 18 points to help the surging Atlanta Hawks to a 113-101 win over the Chicago Bulls in a matchup of potential Eastern Conference play-in teams.

Krejci's flawless shooting, along with 20 points and six assists from Bogdan Bogdanović, powered the Hawks to a fifth win in six games and moved them within a half-game of ninth-place Chicago in the East standings. Dejounte Murray added 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Atlanta.

The Bulls got 31 points from DeMar DeRozan but failed to match Atlanta's accuracy from the perimeter, as they shot just 25 per cent (7 of 28) from 3-point range compared to 47.5 per cent (19 of 40) for the Hawks.

Krejci scored 15 points in the first half as Atlanta took a 61-53 lead into the break before extending the margin in the third quarter.

A DeAndre Hunter 3-pointer followed by Clint Capela's alley-oop dunk increased the Hawks' advantage to 75-62 five minutes into the third quarter, and Atlanta built a 90-74 lead entering the fourth after Garrison Mathews knocked down a triple in the final seconds of the third.

Coby White added 22 points for Chicago, which lost for the fifth time in seven games, while Andre Drummond accumulated 13 points and 18 rebounds off the bench.

Tatum, Hauser key Celtics' win over Hornets

Jayson Tatum and Sam Hauser had 25 points each as the East-leading Boston Celtics stayed hot with a 118-104 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

Tatum added 10 rebounds and Hauser went 7 of 11 on 3-point attempts as the Celtics posted their 11th win in their last 13 games. Boston, which has already clinched the East's No. 1 play-off seed, also received 20 points from Kristaps Porzingis and 19 from Derrick White.

Brandon Miller and Miles Bridges each had 14 first-half points to keep the underdog Hornets close for much of the first two quarters. The teams were tied at  53-53 with under two minutes to go until half-time before the Celtics closed out the second quarter with six straight points to forge ahead.

Boston then got further separation by outscoring Charlotte by a 36-26 margin in the third quarter, which Hauser capped with a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 95-79. Porzingis recorded 11 of his points during the period.

Bridges ended with 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in Charlotte's eighth loss in its past nine games. Miller finished with 19 points and Grant Williams had 23 along with seven rebounds for the Hornets.

 

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