— Sports

Suns beat Clippers, clinch first playoff spot in 11 years

PHOENIX (AP) – Devin Booker was in middle school and starting center. Deandre Ayton was 11 years old when the Phoenix Suns were last in the playoffs. As for point guard Chris Paul? He was an NBA star in those days, like on Wednesday night. Paul scored 28 points, Booker added 21, and the Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-101 to secure a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2010.

“We are not satisfied; we’re not settling,” second-year Suns coach Monty Williams said. “We feel like we’re just scratching the surface.” Williams has been the architect of a remarkable turnaround in Arizona. The Suns had a 19-63 record just two seasons ago and had languished near the bottom of the West for years. They’re a trendy pick to push deep into the summer’s playoffs.

“Our players have worked their tails off; they’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do,” Williams said. “I’m just happy for them.” The Suns finally figured out a way to beat the Clippers, who won the first two games of the season series. Phoenix didn’t trail the entire game but needed a fourth-quarter push to turn back a Los Angeles rally.

The Suns took an 86-80 lead into the final quarter. The Clippers pulled within 93-92 midway through the fourth, but Paul scored three rigid baskets to give Phoenix some space. The 35-year-old Paul continued to play excellent basketball in his 16th NBA season, shooting 10 of 15 from the field, dishingten0 assists, and generally looking like a player a decade younger. The 11-time All-Star has serenaded with “MVP! MVP!” chants from the crowd by the end of the fourth.

Suns beat Clippers

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Paul “picked his spots” and was extremely hard to defend.

“He controls the whole game,” Lue said. “He plays at his pac; he gets guys involved and knows where everybody is. A true point guard doe thats, and he did it tonight.”

Paul – who came to the Suns in an offseason trade with the Thunder – has been a massive boost for the franchise, giving the Suns a Hall of Fame-caliber point guard with 109 games of playoff experience. He said he wasn’t surprised the Suns are in this position.

“I know who I am,” Paul said. “I knew coming to this situation; II knew who Book wa; he told me about some of the guys on the team. I knew playing for Monty, how detail-oriented he is.”

The Suns improved to 44-1,8, while the Clippers fell to 43-21. The teams are currently ranked No. 2 in the Western Conference standings.

Paul George led the Clippers with 25 points andten0 rebounds, while Marcus Morris Sr. added 16 points.

After one quarter, the Suns jumped out to a 39-31 lead, making 7 of 9 shots from 3-point range. Phoenix pushed the lead to 14 points halfway through the second before settling for a 63-53 halftime advantage.

The Phoenix bench outscored LA’s reserves 28-8 in the first half. Frank Kaminsky led the Suns with 13 points before the break, while Booker had 12. George scored 16 for the Clippers.


The Suns can have about 5,500 fans these days at Phoenix Suns Arena, slowly increasing capacity as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.

It was a festive atmosphere for Wednesday’s game that felt almost pre-pandemic, with shirtless fans with S-U-N-S dancing in the stands and huge cheers when Paul hit his crucial buckets in the fourth.

“I love it,” Booker said. “I love these types of games and atmosphere.”

The Suns haven’t been in the playoffs since 2010 when Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire made the team a massive draw in the desert.


Clippers: Guard Patrick Beverley (hand fracture) and forwards Kawhi Leonard (sore right foot) and Serge Ibaka (lower back) didn’t play.

Suns: Forwards Jae Crowder (right ankle sprain), Dario Saric (left ankle), and Abdel Nader (right knee) didn’t play. … Kaminsky was out of the playing rotation for several weeks before stepping up with Crowder and Saric out. He finished 6 of 8 from the field, scoring seven points in a row at one end in the second quarter.

“Speaks to the work and speaks to his attitude,” Williams said of Kaminsky. “He was ready.”


Clippers: Host the Nuggets on Saturday.

Suns: Host the Jazz on Friday.


More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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