76ers and Suns earn Game 4 wins to even respective series

By Sports Desk May 08, 2023

A huge bounce-back performance from James Harden got the Philadelphia 76ers right back in their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Boston Celtics.

Harden capped a 42-point effort by hitting a game-winning 3-pointer with 19 seconds left in overtime, lifting the 76ers to a crucial 116-115 Game 4 victory on Sunday that evened the series at 2-2.

The 2017-18 NBA MVP earlier forced overtime by hitting a 16-foot floater with 16.4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, and rebounded strongly from subpar outings in Philadelphia’s losses in Games 2 and 3. Harden shot a combined 5-of-28 from the field in those games, but finished 16 of 23 in Sunday’s win while making 6 of 9 attempts from 3-point range.

Boston’s Marcus Smart nearly answered Harden’s winning shot with some late heroics of his own, but got off a 3-point attempt that went through the net a split second after the final buzzer sounded as the Sixers held on.

Joel Embiid added 34 points and 13 rebounds for the 76ers, who blew a 16-point third-quarter lead and trailed 105-100 with two minutes left in regulation before closing out the fourth quarter with a 7-2 run.

Jayson Tatum shook off an 0-of-8 shooting start to finish with 24 points and 18 rebounds and help key the Celtics’ comeback in regulation. Jaylen Brown ended with 23 points and Smart had 21.

Game 5 will take place Tuesday in Boston.

Suns withstand Jokic’s 53 points to pull even with Nuggets

Kevin Durant and Devin Booker each scored 36 points and the Phoenix Suns overcame a monster game from Nikola Jokic to earn a 129-124 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of the teams’ Western Conference semifinal.

The Suns recorded their second straight home win to even the series at 2-2 despite Jokic amassing a Nuggets’ playoff-record 53 points on 20-of-30 shooting.

Booker had 17 points in the third quarter to help Phoenix take a 98-92 lead into the fourth, and the Suns stretched the advantage to 116-106 on Landry Shamet’s 3-pointer with 4:56 left.

Denver countered with a 12-5 run to close within 121-118 with under two minutes remaining, but the Suns kept the West’s top seed at bay by going 8 for 8 from the foul line in the closing stages.

Jokic’s 53 points were a career high and eclipsed the Nuggets’ single-game record for a playoff game of 50, set twice by teammate Jamal Murray in 2020.

Shamet delivered four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and finished with 19 points off the bench for Phoenix, which will head back to Denver for Tuesday’s Game 5. The home team has won every meeting in the series thus far.

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