NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Paul scores 41 as Suns down Clippers to end NBA Finals wait

By Sports Desk June 30, 2021

The Phoenix Suns and Chris Paul have ended their respective long waits for NBA Finals appearances after a 130-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers sealed their spot on Wednesday.

The Suns clinched the Western Conference Finals series 4-2, rounding out the triumph with an outstanding road win, with Phoenix back in the NBA Finals for the first time in 28 years.

Suns' 36-year-old point guard Paul was exceptional with 41 points as he progresses to the NBA Finals for the first time in his career, after 13 playoffs campaigns.

Paul hit seven-from-eight three-pointers in a masterful shooting display, going at 66.7 per cent from the field, as well as eight assists, four rebounds and three steals with no turnovers.

Devin Booker contributed with 22 points, four assists and seven rebounds, Deandre Ayton had 17 rebounds along with 16 points, while Jae Crowder hit five three-pointers in his 19 points.

Phoenix are crowned Western Conference champions having gone 12-4 in the postseason, including 6-2 on the road, clinching all three series away.

The Suns become the first team in history to reach the NBA Finals having not made the playoffs in 10 or more years prior.

The Clippers could not muster one more memorable comeback after some dramatic performances this postseason, closing within seven points late in the third before Paul showed irrepressible poise.

Paul George managed 21 points with nine rebounds for the Clippers, while Marcus Morris Sr scored 26 points and had nine rebounds.

Patrick Beverley was ejected in the fourth quarter for a push on Paul as reality set in for LA, who were behind for the most part of Wednesday's Game 6.

Paul's shooting was clearly on early as the Suns opened up a 10-point half-time lead, with Phoenix shooting at 58.8 per cent from beyond the arc in the first half.

The Clippers had a 10-0 run to close within seven points late in the third quarter as the home crowd erupted after Nicolas Batum's three-pointer.

But Paul steadied for Phoenix with a long-range bucket immediately after the timeout, opening it up to 14 points at the final change and they would not relent, with the Suns veteran adding 17 fourth-quarter points.

 

Hawks at Bucks

Star pair Trae Young and Giannis Antetokounmpo are both likely to be out for the crucial Game 5 as the Milwaukee Bucks host the Atlanta Hawks with the series at 2-2.

Related items

  • Haller matches Ronaldo and beats Haaland record with latest Champions League strike Haller matches Ronaldo and beats Haaland record with latest Champions League strike

    Sebastien Haller broke a Champions League record held by Erling Haaland when he gave Ajax the lead against Sporting CP on Tuesday, matching another feat previously only ever achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo.

    The Ivory Coast international, who joined in January from West Ham, had difficulty in coming about goals during an 18-month Premier League stint.

    His Champions League form has been stellar, though, and the penalty he converted against Sporting was his 10th goal of this season's group stage.

    It made him the quickest player to reach double figures in a Champions League career, doing so in just six games. Norwegian star Haaland previously held that record, having got there in seven appearances.

    Haller also became the first player to score in each of his opening six games in the competition.

    Cristiano Ronaldo was already a Champions League veteran when he scored in all six of Real Madrid's 2017-18 group games. That made Ronaldo the first player to have netted in all of his team's matches at that stage of the competition in a single season.

    Haller has now become the second man to achieve that feat, with the 27-year-old's eighth-minute spot-kick coming after he was fouled by Daniel Braganca.

    It gave Ajax a 1-0 lead, but they were soon pegged back to 1-1 as Nuno Santos replied in the 22nd minute for Sporting. Antony restored Ajax's lead before half-time.

    Ajax were already assured of winning Group C coming into the final game of the opening stage, with Sporting assured of finishing as runners-up.

  • Real Madrid become first club to score 1,000 goals among Europe's elite Real Madrid become first club to score 1,000 goals among Europe's elite

    Toni Kroos scored Real Madrid's 1,000th Champions League/European Cup goal during their final Group D match against Inter.

    The Germany international put the 13-time winners ahead in the 17th minute at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    Receiving the ball from Rodrygo 25 yards from goal, Kroos took a touch before drilling a beautiful left-footed strike beyond the reach of Samir Handanovic.

    The wonderful effort saw Madrid become the first club to reach four figures in European Cup and Champions League matches (excluding qualifiers).

     

  • Xavi adamant Barca don't need a 'miracle' ahead of pivotal Bayern trip Xavi adamant Barca don't need a 'miracle' ahead of pivotal Bayern trip

    Xavi remains convinced qualification for the Champions League knockout phase is realistic for Barcelona despite their pivotal matchday six game being a trip to the mighty Bayern Munich.

    Barca go to Munich second in Group E with seven points, just two more than a Benfica side that will expect to beat Dynamo Kiev.

    If Benfica are victorious, only a win will take Barca through to the last 16, and that will not be a simple task – Bayern have won all five of their Champions League games this term and boast an excellent record at home.

    Die Roten have lost just twice at the Allianz Arena all year, with Eintracht Frankfurt claiming a 2-1 victory just over two months ago and Paris Saint-Germain winning 3-2 back in April.

    Bayern are already on the longest run of successive victories by any team against Barcelona in the history of the Champions League/European Cup (three wins), a sequence that included the 8-2 in August 2020 and a comprehensive 3-0 success earlier this season.

    The odds will be stacked against a Barca side who suffered their first defeat of Xavi's tenure at the weekend, but the former midfielder is looking to instil some belief.

    "We will try," he told reporters. "He who tries and rows to the end does not fail, and I do not believe in the word failure.

    "We depend on ourselves and it will be difficult, but at the moment we have the idea of going there to win the game, dominate and create chances. If tomorrow it [Barca are knocked out] happens, we will talk about it.

    "I see them train and I think we are ready to compete. It's not the best scenario [the lack of spectators allowed] but we are very much looking forward to it.

    "I hope the latest defeat doesn't affect us. We depend on ourselves and we will try with our weapons.

    "After the game we will see. I don't see it as such a miracle. It is a game and we can beat any opponent."

    Xavi was hired amid a huge rebuild job at Barca, with the club still reeling from Lionel Messi's departure, which was forced by a crippling financial situation.

    Barca's debts have reached €1.4billion this year and their LaLiga salary cap was reduced by €280m, meaning cheaper signings and utilising young players have been necessities.

    But Xavi believes the charm of football is in the possibility to win any match.

    "We work so that Barca is not inferior to any team in Europe. We have a lot of work ahead of us," he continued.

    "You have to be patient because this [process] is not overnight – lately, Bayern have been better than Barca, but football always offers you a chance for revenge."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.