NBA

Paul leads Suns to drought-breaking playoffs spot as 76ers also clinch and Westbrook stars

By Sports Desk April 29, 2021

Chris Paul scored 28 points as the Phoenix Suns ended their decade-long NBA playoff drought with a 109-101 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

Paul posted 25 points in the second half, finishing with three rebounds and 10 assists as the Suns (44-18) returned to the postseason for the first time since 2009-10.

Phoenix's playoff drought was the second longest active in the NBA, with only the Sacramento Kings waiting longer.

All-Star Paul, who joined Western Conference hopefuls the Suns from the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, said: "It means a lot. It's a special team. To be reconnected with a coach [Monty Williams] who coached me 10 years ago.

"He trusted me as a 35-year-old who a couple of years ago they said was done."

The Philadelphia 76ers – second to the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference – also secured their playoff berth courtesy of a 127-83 rout of the Atlanta Hawks thanks to a team-high 20 points from Seth Curry.

The 76ers have now made the postseason for four consecutive seasons, which is their longest streak since they made five straight playoff appearances from 1999 to 2003.

 

Records fall as Jazz hit franchise best

NBA leaders the Utah Jazz scored a franchise-record 154 points as they humbled the Kings without All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley. The Jazz won 154-105, blowing their opponents apart with a 46-17 second period, which tied as a franchise-record quarter differential.

Former MVP Russell Westbrook (18 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists) led the Washington Wizards to their 11th triumph from their past 13 games, while condemning defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers to their fourth defeat from their past five in a 116-107 win. It was Westbrook's third season with 30-plus triple-doubles, no other player in NBA history has had more than one season with 30-plus triple-doubles.

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra reached a rare feat on Wednesday as last season's NBA Finals runners-up topped the San Antonio Spurs 116-111. Spoelstra recorded his 600th career win – the 27th coach in league history to reach that amount. Dejounte Murray also became the third player in Spurs history to record four-plus triple-doubles in a season, following in the footsteps of David Robinson and Johnny Moore.

Jaylen Brown (38 points) and Jayson Tatum (35 points) became the first Boston Celtics team-mates to each record 35-plus points in a game since 2006 as the franchise defeated the Charlotte Hornets 120-111.

 

Love struggles

Kevin Love was held scoreless until the fourth quarter. While he collected 10 rebounds and tallied six assists, 2016 NBA champion Love was just two-for-11 shooting in 35 minutes, making just two of 10 of his three-point attempts.

 

You be the judge?

Zion Williamson was denied a game-tying lay-up in the dying seconds of the New Orleans Pelicans' 114-112 loss to the Denver Nuggets, although the block from MVP candidate Nikola Jokic appeared to be a missed foul.

 

Wednesday's results

Orlando Magic 109-104 Cleveland Cavaliers
Philadelphia 76ers 127-83 Atlanta Hawks
New York Knicks 113-94 Chicago Bulls
Boston Celtics 120-111 Charlotte Hornets
Washington Wizards 116-107 Los Angeles Lakers
Miami Heat 116-111 San Antonio Spurs
Portland Trail Blazers 130-109 Memphis Grizzlies
Denver Nuggets 114-112 New Orleans Pelicans
Phoenix Suns 109-101 Los Angeles Clippers
Utah Jazz 154-105 Sacramento Kings

 

Nets at Pacers

The star-studded Nets (42-20) are getting their troops back and they make the trip to face the Indiana Pacers (29-32) on Thursday.

Related items

  • Joel Embiid 'ready to go' for play-ins – Nurse Joel Embiid 'ready to go' for play-ins – Nurse

    Joel Embiid will be "ready to go" for the Philadelphia 76ers when they host the Miami Heat, coach Nick Nurse has confirmed.

    The reigning MVP sat out the Sixers' 107-86 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in Sunday's regular-season finale at Wells Fargo Center.

    Embiid returned from a two-month lay-off against the Oklahoma City Thunder two weeks ago, but his status has been questionable for every game since. 

    And after missing the Nets game, concerns were raised with regards to his status ahead of Wednesday's 7-8 play-in contest with the Heat.

    However, Nurse allayed any fears regarding the fitness of Embiid, who practised with the rest of his team-mates on Saturday.

    "He did everything at practice yesterday," Nurse said after the Nets win. "But we decided out of caution to hold him out. He'll be ready to go."

    Despite winning their final eight games, the Sixers finished seventh in the Eastern Conference and are set to contest their first play-in contest.

    As a result of other results over the weekend, the Heat now stand between Philadelphia and a place in the playoffs.

    "Obviously, we've had some great battles with them, and we always expect that facing them," Nurse said.

    "The mindset is we're playing well and do everything we can, like we've been doing for the last month.

    "We're digging in and playing our guys and doing whatever we have to do to win. We've got a good mindset, and we'll take that into Wednesday."

  • Allen reportedly agrees to 4-year, $70million extension with Suns Allen reportedly agrees to 4-year, $70million extension with Suns

    When Grayson Allen takes the court for the Phoenix Suns in their first play-off game this weekend, he'll be playing with a new contract.

    Allen and the Suns agreed to a four-year, $70million extension on Monday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

    The six-year veteran is coming off his best NBA season, averaging career highs of 13.5 points per game, 3.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 0.92 steals while starting 74 of 75 contests.

    He also shot a league-leading 46.1 per cent from 3-point range and averaged a career-best 2.7 made 3-pointers per game.

    He had seven games this season with at least eight made 3-pointers, and only the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry had more such games with eight.

     

    The 21st overall pick of the 2018 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz, Allen joined the Suns last off-season as part of the three-team trade that saw Damian Lillard go to the Milwaukee Bucks.

    Prior to being acquired by Phoenix, Allen spent one season with the Jazz, two with the Memphis Grizzlies and two in Milwaukee.

    He averaged 9.7 points per game in his first five seasons before becoming an important part of Phoenix's offence in 2023-24.

    In the 30 games Allen scored at least 14 points, the Suns went 22-8, compared to going 27-25 when he scored 13 or fewer.

    Phoenix won 10 of its last 14 games to end the season 49-33, and finish in sixth place in the Western Conference.

    The Suns will face the third-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in a first-round play-off series, beginning on Saturday.

  • 'No doubt' Davis will face the Pelicans 'No doubt' Davis will face the Pelicans

    The Los Angeles Lakers will have Anthony Davis to call on when they face the New Orleans Pelicans in their upcoming play-in game.

    After finishing eighth in the Western Conference, the Lakers will go up against the No.7 seed Pelicans on Tuesday.

    While the loser will drop into a game against either the Sacramento Kings or the Golden State Warriors, the winner will go up against the Denver Nuggets in the first round.

    The Lakers defeated the Pelicans 124-108 in their final regular-season game on Sunday, with an instant rematch now on the cards.

    And Davis, who had to be treated for back spasms after the game, insisted he will be fit to feature.

    "No doubt that I'm going to play," said Davis, who finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds.

    LeBron James is heading into the playoffs in fine form.

    He registered his fifth triple-double of the season, finishing with 28 points, a season-high 17 assists and 11 rebounds.

    "I just read the game and I was just finding my teammates and I just tried to put the ball on time and on target for either jump shots or guys at the rim," James said.

    "I just tried to be very efficient with my play."

    James marked Zion Williamson on Sunday, with the 23-year-old limited to 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

    However, James was full of praise for his opponent, adding: "He's a beast.

    "I mean, it's almost impossible to stop him so I just tried to keep a body on him and just tried to keep it tough on him. He's a great player, man."

    Looking towards Tuesday's matchup, James said: "Tuesday's game is going to be extremely hard, extremely difficult, extremely physical.

    "I've always known that, when you play a playoff series, and I look at this like a two-game playoff series, if you win that first game, a team has multiple days to kind of sit on that feeling, or sit with that taste in their mouth of defeat.

    "So they're going to be extremely ready for us and we have to come in with the same sense of urgency that we had the previous game."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.