The Phoenix Suns advance to the next round after defeating the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 5, 136-130, thanks in part to Devin Booker’s terrific performance in front of a home crowd.
The Suns were down nine points when the first-half buzzer rang, but nothing a 50-point third quarter couldn’t fix.
Phoenix was unconscious when play resumed, and it mostly came from Booker, who had half the team’s points in that quarter in what was a fantastic performance from the dynamic guard.
Booker finished the game with a game-high 47 points with 10 assists and just two rebounds before notching a triple-double.
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Understanding that a loss ends their season, the Clippers didn’t turn around after a tough third quarter in which they were outscored on one point 29-7. They got within three points after Nicolás Batum buried a 27-foot 3-pointer with 3:19 left in the fourth quarter, 128-125.
LA would cut the lead to just two points, but after Norman Powell fumbled, Kevin Durant hit a 6-footer to make it 134-130, enough of a margin to close things out. He would hit two free throws with 30 seconds remaining to move the lead to six, which was the dagger.
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Durant finished his night with 31 points on 10-for-19 shooting with six rebounds and four assists. Center Deandre Ayton also had a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while veteran point guard Chris Paul had 15 points and seven assists.
For the Clippers, Powell was the points leader going 27 on 8-of-17 from the floor with 8-of-10 from the line as well. Ivica Zubac had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Marcus Morris Sr. also dropped 12 points.
Russell Westbrook had a brutal night shot for the Clippers, making just 3-of-18 shots, though he went 7-of-8 from the charity line to save his 14 points. He also had eight rebounds and eight assists.
On defense for Los Angeles, it didn’t help that their two star players, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, have been out for most of the series.
George has been dealing with a sprained knee that forced him to miss the entire series. Leonard also suffered a knee injury in Game 1 and worsened after playing in Game 2. The Clippers ended up shutting him down in Game 3.
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While the Clippers hope they can bounce back this offseason, the Suns now move on to face the top-seeded Denver Nuggets in the second round. They also defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday to advance.