Phoenix April 19 (US): Kevin Durant is a shiny new game for the Phoenix Suns. Devin Booker remains the heart and soul of the team.
Three-time All-Star Booker who spent all eight seasons in the NBA in Phoenix scored 38 points, Durant added 25 and the Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 123-109 Tuesday night in Game 2 to tie the Western Conference first-round series, The Associated reported. Press.
“He’s an all-around player,” Durant said of Booker. “He can do everything at an elite level on the basketball court.”
The Suns needed a valiant effort after a disappointing loss in Game 1. Their shots didn’t fall for most of the first half and they fell into a 13-point hole midway through the second quarter. But they did not panic, led by Booker.
The 26-year-old holed 3 shortly before halftime to tie it up and scored 18 third-quarter points on 7-of-8 shooting, helping the Suns advance to 92-87 entering the fourth. The defense also improved after the Clippers got several easy baskets in the second quarter.
“People talk about adjustments all the time and we make them,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “But sometimes basketball is able to sit back and guard the ball, and prevent your guy from getting to the basket and competing for the shot.” Never trailing in the fourth quarter, Phoenix slowly pulled away. It was their first playoff victory with Durant on the floor. The team was 8-0 during the regular season as a 13-time All-Star after his trade from the Brooklyn Nets in February.
The series moves to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Thursday night.
Los Angeles was led by Kawhi Leonard with 31 points, after scoring 38 in Game 1. Russell Westbrook added 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting.
“We know it’s going to be a tough series,” Westbrook said. “They’re back and taking care of business tonight.”
Booker had a stellar shooting night, connecting on 14 of 22 shots, including 4 of 7 in the 3s. He added nine assists. Deandre Ayton added 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 13 rebounds. Torey Craig scored 5 of 8 3s and had 17 points, and Chris Paul had 16 points and eight assists.
“We tried to attack. We tried to shoot. We did a lot of different things,” Clippers coach Tyrone Law said. “They played great.”
Paul v. boost
Paul’s archenemy had a whistle on Tuesday, not a basketball dribbler.
Rule broke a 13-game losing streak when referee Scott Foster was on the floor. The years-long feud continued with Paul Foster criticizing several times.
“I didn’t notice,” Paul said. “I think we’re all, on this tour, about minimizing distractions. It’s what it is, I’m sure it’s still going to be a thing.”
Several Suns players credited the Clippers’ coaches and players for their unpredictable defensive combinations, which they said was part of the reason for the team’s slow start.
“They changed their defense like every possession,” Durant said. “They might double, they might triple, they might go to the zone, they might go to the full press. So they’re trying to get us off their lid. I think we did a good job[eventually]figuring that out. Just plain play.”
Clippers: Eight-time All-Star Paul George (sprained knee) Hasn’t played since March 21st… … Leonard has shot 11 of 20 from the field, including 3 of 5 on 3-pointers.
Suns: G Cam Payne (Low Back Pain) has yet to play in the series. He’s just not ready,” said coach Monty Williams. “He’s done a lot on the floor, but there are certain moves he can’t do yet without pain.” … hosted a 76th consecutive sellout, combining regular season and playoff games.