IMAGE: The Arizona Republic
BOOKER NAILS GAME-WINNER IN RETURN AS SUNS PIP MAVERICKS
Devin Booker was back for the Phoenix Suns and in a big way too.
Booker sunk the game-winning three with 1.5 seconds remaining and the Suns extended the Dallas Mavericks losing streak to six winning 109-108.
The sweet shooting guard missed the previous four games after straining his left hamstring in the side’s overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets on January 23rd.
Chris Paul who has played a mentoring role for this young Phoenix squad led the way with 34 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists while Booker scored 24 including 13 in the decisive fourth quarter.
Superstar Luka Doncic tried his best to snap Dallas’ skid finishing with 25 points and 8 assists, but his production couldn’t put end to the team’s sliding fortunes.
The first half was a lockdown of half court defences as the Mavericks took a 53-47 lead into intermission. By midway through the fourth, the contest would ultimately be decided in the final minutes.
Tim Hardaway Jr back playing the sixth man role came up trumps with a vital three from the Doncic pass to put Dallas in front by two. His basket was immediately responded to by Paul, who for 16 seasons has made a living out of finding his spot in the midrange to level scores at 104.
25.3 seconds later Booker matched up on a switch with Kristaps Porzingis landed a closely contested 18-foot step back jumper to level proceedings although De’Andre Ayton would be called for the away from the play foul on Josh Richardson sending him on the line.
Richardson went on to put through a pair of free throws to regain the lead for Dallas. Into the final 15 seconds, Paul with the ball in his hands made a brilliant spilt through move past Porzingis and Hardaway Jr but fluffed the wide-open layup.
De’Andre Ayton though was there however he missed the tip-in as Porzingis converged on him to force a jump ball. After using its final timeout, Phoenix would get the ball to Booker who in the pressure packed situation delivered the Suns its third consecutive victory.
LEBRON, AD PUSH LAKERS PAST HAWKS TO COMPLETE ROAD TRIP
The Lakers all game were seriously tested by the young upcoming Hawks. That’s when the King made significant plays to bank home the win.
Anthony Davis scored 25 points, while LeBron James delivered 21 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists as the Los Angeles Lakers ended a seven-game Eastern trip with a hard fought 107-99 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Hawks young star Trae Young led the side with 25 points and a season-high 16 assists, and John Collins had 22 points and 7 rebounds who matched it toe for toe with the Champions.
Right from the opening tip the contest wouldn’t be a walkover with Atlanta making major strides in the first quarter of the season as it only trailed 50-46 at the end of the opening half. The Lakers midway through the third created a slight buffer when Davis made a jumper as the Lakers went up 64-58. For the duration of the third, Atlanta strung together an 22-11 run to end the third up one.
The Lakers strung 11 consecutive points to start the fourth going up 10 prompting an Atlanta timeout. With under four minutes left, the Lakers still led by double-digits when Dennis Schroder capitalised on a three point play.
Atlanta though had other ideas. Led by Young who bombed home a deep 36-footer cutting the Lakers lead to 98-97 with the play capping off an 11-2 spurt in 2:07.
That’s when LeBron came to the fall. Coming off a slight Davis screen, the 4-time Champion set his feet before burying a critical three to give the Lakers a two possession lead. Then on the team’s next possession, LeBron stripped a rolling Clint Capela to the basket before trucking his way to the hoop to put away the contest.
In other results around the Association:
Malik Monk’s career-high 36 points helped the Charlotte Hornets erase a 10 point with 3:11 left in regulation to defeat the Miami Heat 129-121 in Overtime.
The Cleveland Cavaliers bounced back from its loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves 24 hours earlier to prevail 100-98 behind Jarrett Allen’s 23 points and 18 rebounds starting in place for Andre Drummond who was out with a sore lower back.
Lauri Markkanen led Chicago with 30 points, while Zach LaVine scored 21 including the dagger three as the Bulls defeated the League’s best defensive team: the New York Knicks 110-102.
The Milwaukee Bucks shook off the recent doldrums to belt the Portland Trailblazers 134-106 behind Jrue Holiday who had 22 points and 6 assists and Bobby Ports with 21 points and 8 rebounds.
Dazzling Point Guard Fox went up a gear scoring 17 of his 38 points in the fourth, while Harrison Barnes had 24 as the Sacramento Kings overran the New Orleans Pelicans 118-109 for its fourth win in five games.
Eric Gordon scored 25 points and the red-hot Houston Rockets set a franchise-high with 28 made threes in the process winning its sixth straight game in a 136-106 rout of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Gorgui Dieng posted 19 points, 9 rebounds and was one of nine Grizzlies players to score in double-figures as Memphis blew apart the San Antonio Spurs 133-102.
By Juri Bilcich