Booker, Paul shine as Suns halt Knicks win streak
Los Angeles (AFP) –
Devin Booker scored 33 points as the Phoenix Suns snapped the New York Knicks' nine-game winning streak with a come-from-behind 118-110 victory at Madison Square Garden on Monday.
The Suns roared back to life after trailing by 15 points in the first half, outscoring the in-form Knicks by 31-23 in the decisive fourth quarter to complete victory by an eight-point margin.
Mikal Bridges added 21 points for Phoenix, while veteran Chris Paul chipped in with 20 points -- including a vital late burst of scoring -- to help shepherd the Suns ever closer to a playoff berth.
The Suns improved to 43-18 with the win and remain in second place in the Western Conference, just behind leaders Utah, who suffered a surprise loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.
"We knew it was going to be a dogfight from beginning to end," Booker said afterwards. "Obviously the streak they've had is unbelievable. But we wanted to come in here and show them what we've got."
The Knicks had pulled to within four points with just under two minutes remaining, but eight quick points from Paul -- including a dagger three-pointer -- sealed the Suns win.
"He's been here before," Booker said of Paul's late scoring spree. "The proof is in the pudding. We've been seeing what this guy can do for 16 years -- that didn't surprise anybody."
Derrick Rose led the Knicks scoring with 22 points, while Julius Randle finished with 18. RJ Barrett and Reggie Bullock added 17 apiece.
The shock of the day came in Minneapolis, where D'Angelo Russell's driving layup with 4.2 seconds remaining helped the Timberwolves upset the Jazz 105-104.
Russell finished with 27 points as a Utah line-up missing the injured Donovan Mitchell slid to defeat against an already-eliminated Minnesota team helping prop up the Western Conference with just 17 wins this season.
Another win streak bit the dust in New Orleans, meanwhile, as the Los Angeles Clippers' four-game run ended with an emphatic 120-103 drubbing by the Pelicans.
Zion Williamson led the Pelicans with 23 points, while Eric Bledsoe and Lonzo Ball both had 18 each in the win.
- Happy returns for Lakers -
In Washington, Bradley Beal scored 45 points, but it was not enough to prevent the San Antonio Spurs halting the Wizards' eight-game winning streak with a 146-143 win in overtime.
Wizards ace Beal missed a three-pointer on the buzzer to tie it up, while Russell Westbrook had a triple-double with 22 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists in a losing effort for Washington.
DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs scoring with 37 points and 10 assists, while Dejounte Murray added 25 points and Keldon Johnson 21. San Antonio improved to 31-29 with the win, while Washington fell to 27-34.
In Orlando, Anthony Davis helped make it a happy return for the Los Angeles Lakers in a 114-103 victory over the Magic.
Davis, who is working his way back to full fitness after a lengthy injury layoff, scored 18 points in a roller coaster win for the Lakers, playing in Orlando for the first time since last season's NBA Finals victory.
"Last time we were here, good things happened," Davis said. "I'm happy to come back here and have another good thing happen with the win."
The Lakers were made to work for the victory though, recovering from a disastrous second quarter when they were outscored 40-22 to regain the lead at the end of the third quarter.
A late burst from Dennis Schroder, with 13 of his 21 points coming in the final quarter, helped the Lakers close out the win.
"We had to get back to what we do -- helping each other, trusting each other and we did that in the second half," Davis said. "We've just got to continue to stay together and keep this run going into the playoffs."
Davis and Schroder were among six players who finished in double figures for the Lakers, who improved to 36-25 to remain fifth in the Western Conference.
© 2021 AFP