The Phoenix Suns, carried by a very good Chris Paul (28 points), beat (109-101) the Los Angeles Clippers and thus secured their place in the play-offs, a first for eleven years.
A rebirth for Phoenix. The Suns had not participated since 2009-2010 in the NBA Finals Tournament, accessible to eight franchises from each conference. They then reached the conference final but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, future winners of the event. This year, the Phoenix players, with 44 wins for 18 losses, currently occupy 2nd place in the Western Conference, two games behind the Clippers, third. Against the latter, Chris Paul had an excellent game, scoring 28 points, including 15 in the last quarter, in addition to his 10 assists and three interceptions. His teammate Devin Booker also delivered a very honorable score, with 21 points and 6 rebounds.
On the Clippers side, rookie DeMarcus Cousins did not play Wednesday, after scoring 16 points in the Angelenos’ loss to New Orleans on Monday (120-103). Los Angeles was deprived of its star Kawhi Leonard, injured in a foot, for a fifth consecutive game. Paul George still scored 25 points and took 10 rebounds, and Marcus Morris 16 points. Philadelphia also qualified for the play-offs by atomizing Atlanta (127-83). Each of the 15 Sixers on the scoresheet has scored, and half a dozen of them have had at least 10 points, including 20 for Seth Curry and 17 for Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid. “Starting the season, our goal was to win a championship,” Embiid said. There are a lot of steps to climb to get there. But we have everything we need to get there.”
The Jazz pass the 150 point mark
The Hawks, with their full infirmary, played without some of their best players, including Trae Young (left ankle injury), Cam Reddish (right Achilles tendon) and De’Andre Hunter (right knee). Swiss pivot Clint Capela, who had taken at least 10 rebounds in the last 14 games, saw his impressive streak come to an end by taking only 8 against the Sixers. In other games, the Washington Wizards, tenth in the Eastern Conference, won a fine 116-107 victory at home against the Lakers, fifth in the West. Bradley Beal scored 27 points and Russell Westbrook had a triple-double (18 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists), his 30th of the season. “We deserved this victory,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. “We have two very high level players, but our other guys are doing well” too, he added.
On the Lakers side, Anthony Davis scored 26 points. But the Los Angeles players lacked precision (43% shooting) and were largely beaten under the basket, with 49 rebounds against 61 for Washington. In Sacramento, the Utah Jazz set a franchise record for most runs scored in a game by beating the ill-fated Kings 154-105. Eight players scored at least ten points, including Bojan Bogdanovic (24). In the other matches of the evening, the Knicks resumed their march forward (113-94) against Chicago, two days after Phoenix interrupted their nine-game winning streak. Julius Randle scored 34 points, but Jayson Tatum went even better with 35 points for Boston, a 120-111 winner over Charlotte.