Economy

Suns earn OT win over Jazz in battle of NBA’s best







DEVIN Booker and Chris Paul led the Phoenix Suns to a 117-113 overtime (OT) win over the visiting Utah Jazz on Wednesday night in a game between the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) best two teams that lived up to its billing.

Booker scored 35 points and Chris Paul contributed 29 points and nine assists as the Suns, who have the NBA’s second best record, held on for their seventh victory in a row.

Booker got the Suns off to a quick start in OT with a layup, and Paul finished it off with free throws late in the extra session. Utah never led in overtime.

Deandre Ayton also had a strong showing with 18 points and 12 rebounds for Phoenix, which picked up its second win in two meetings with the Jazz this season.

Donovan Mitchell registered 41 points and eight rebounds for the NBA-leading Jazz, and he forced overtime with a clutch three-pointer late in regulation. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 20 points and Rudy Gobert tallied 16 points and 18 rebounds for the Jazz, who have lost two in a row on the road after a nine-game winning streak.

Phoenix’s offensive rebounds (16) and the Jazz’s poor three-point shooting (11 of 44) were key factors on a night when every possession mattered.

The Suns jumped out to a quick start, using a 13-0 spurt for an early 13-2 lead. Utah bounced back with six straight points and went on to hold a 21-20 lead after the first quarter.

Booker scored 12 points in the second quarter and the Jazz struggled offensively as the Suns took a 51-40 half time lead.

Utah came out of the locker room and looked much more like itself, scoring 38 points in the third quarter to regain a lead going into the fourth. Conley hit a buzzer-beater to secure a 78-77 edge for Utah.

The fourth quarter felt like a playoff game, with each team hitting clutch shots and refusing to give up ground.

The Suns had a four-point lead late in regulation, but the Jazz got a three-point play on a Mitchell drive and Gobert free throw. After Paul sank a jumper, Mitchell drained a 3-pointer in a crowd to tie the score with 10.8 seconds remaining.

Booker missed a potential game-winning long jumper at the buzzer, sending the contest to overtime.

Neither team has much time to think about this game. The Jazz return home to face the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday while the Suns head to Los Angeles for a late Thursday game against the Clippers.

KD RETURNS
Kevin Durant played for the first time in nearly two months and was one of seven Brooklyn players to score in double figures as the host Nets routed the New Orleans Pelicans (139-111) on Wednesday night.

Durant, who last played on Feb. 13 and missed 23 consecutive games because of a hamstring injury, didn’t enter the game until the second quarter was nearly halfway over. He scored 17 points, making 5-of-5 field goals, 2-of-2 3-pointers, and 5-of-5 free throws in 19 minutes.

Kyrie Irving led Brooklyn with 24 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 22, Joe Harris scored 14, Chris Chiozza scored 12, Jeff Green had 11, and Blake Griffin got 10.

Brooklyn had a season-high 37 assists on 51 field goals.

The Nets outscored the Pelicans (43-26) in the second quarter to take command and coast to their ninth consecutive victory at home. Brooklyn led by as many as 38 points.

Eric Bledsoe led New Orleans with 26 points despite being ejected after receiving two technical fouls late in the third quarter.

Zion Williamson scored 16 points on 4-of-12 shooting to end his streak of 25 consecutive games with 20-plus points on 50% shooting or better, which tied Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal’s record. Lonzo Ball added 15 points and Jaxson Hayes and Isaiah Thomas had 11 each.

The score was tied five times in the first quarter, the last at 33 after Williamson scored five straight points. Griffin beat the buzzer with a three-pointer that gave the Nets a 36-33 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Durant didn’t enter the game until 7:37 was left in the second quarter and less than a minute later, he made his first shot on a midrange jumper that gave Brooklyn a 58-46 lead.

The Nets continued to increase the lead on their way to a 79-59 halftime lead. It was their highest-scoring half of the season as they scored the most first-half points by a Pelicans opponent this season.

Brooklyn made 11 of 18 3-pointers and 16 of 20 free throws in the first half. — Reuters





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