Booker returns, NBA-leading Suns rout Heat on back-to-back

March 10, 2022 GMT
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) leads a fast break during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) leads a fast break during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) leads a fast break during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)
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Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) leads a fast break during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)
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Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) leads a fast break during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

MIAMI (AP) — Devin Booker scored 23 points, Mikal Bridges added 21 and the Phoenix Suns shook off a slow start to beat the Miami Heat 111-90 on Wednesday night in a matchup of the NBA’s conference leaders.

Booker, returning from a four-game absence for virus-related issues, flirted with a triple-double, finishing with nine assists and eight rebounds to help Phoenix clinch a playoff spot.

Phoenix improved the NBA’s best record to 53-13, and the reigning Western Conference champion Suns have now beaten all other 29 teams this season — the first time they’ve done that since 2006-07.

Coming off a victory Tuesday night at Orlando, Phoenix improved its NBA-best road mark to 25-6. They have an 8 1/2-game lead over Memphis and are nine games ahead of Golden State and East-leading Miami.

Deandre Ayton had 19 points on 9-for-10 shooting and 10 rebounds for the Suns, who got 11 points and 15 rebounds from JaVale McGee, and 11 points apiece from Jae Crowder and Cameron Payne.

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Duncan Robinson scored 22 points, and Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro each had 17. The Heat lost for just the third time in their last 15 games.

Miami played without Jimmy Butler (sinus congestion) and lost key reserve Caleb Martin midway through the second quarter to a knee injury.

RAPTORS 119, SPURS 104

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Fred VanVleet had 26 points and Toronto beat San Antonio, delaying Gregg Popovich’s coronation as the winningest coach in NBA history.

Popovich is tied with his friend and mentor, Don Nelson, with 1,335 regular-season victories. San Antonio’s next opportunity to get the record for its 73-year-old coach is Friday night at home against Utah.

VanVleet was 7 for 15 from the field in his return from a five-game absence because of knee soreness. Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam added 20 points to help Toronto snap a three-game skid.

Keldon Johnson had 27 points for San Antonio, and Dejounte Murray added 25 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. The Spurs have lost five of six games.

BUCKS 124, HAWKS 115

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 43 points and 12 rebounds and Milwaukee beat Atlanta for its sixth straight victory.

Defending champion Milwaukee edged a half-game ahead of idle Philadelphia for second place in the Eastern Conference and moved within two games of first-place Miami, which lost at home to NBA-leading Phoenix.

Bobby Portis added 23 points and 15 rebounds, and Khris Middleton had 23 points and eight assists to help Milwaukee beat Atlanta for the first time in three tries this season. Trae Young led Atlanta with 27 points and 11 assists.

TIMBERWOLVES 132, THUNDER 102

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Malik Beasley made 11 3-pointers to set a Timberwolves franchise-record and finished with 33 points to help lift Minnesota past Oklahoma City for its sixth win in a row.

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Beasley took 17 3-points. He didn’t play the final 4:57, ending three made 3-pointers shy of Klay Thompson’s NBA record.

Taurean Prince scored 17 points off the bench for Minnesota, and Karl-Anthony Towns had 13 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.

Aaron Wiggins led Oklahoma City with 25 points and nine rebounds.

CLIPPERS 115, WIZARDS 109

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nicolas Batum hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 31.2 seconds remaining, Reggie Jackson scored 31 points and Los Angeles scored the final 11 points in a win over Washington.

Los Angeles held Washington scoreless over the last 2:37, and Jackson’s two free throws with 12.3 seconds left to put the Clippers up by four.

The Wizards have blown leads to lose both of their meetings against Los Angeles this year, although this hole wasn’t as deep as the previous meeting. The Clippers pulled off the second-biggest comeback in NBA history in the first showdown, rallying from a 35-point, first-half deficit to defeat the Wizards 116-115 on Jan. 25.

Marcus Morris Sr. added 27 points and Luke Kennard 19 for the Clippers, who snapped a two-game losing streak.

ROCKETS 139, LAKERS 130, OT

HOUSTON (AP) — Rookie Jalen Green scored a career-high 32 points, including 10 in overtime, and Houston outlasted Los Angeles.

Last in the Western Conference, Houston withstood a triple-double from LeBron James — 23 points, 14 rebounds and a season-high 12 assists — and Russell Westbrook’s 30-point night for their second win in 15 games.

The Lakers have dropped nine straight on the road, and six of their last seven overall

CELTICS 115, HORNETS 101

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 16 of his 44 points in the fourth quarter, helping Boston beat Charlotte for its fourth straight victory.

Coming off a 54-point performance against Brooklyn on Sunday, Tatum made 16 of 24 shots from the field and 6 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also made all six free throws.

Jaylen Brown had 15 points for Boston.

Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington each had 17 points for Charlotte. They fell to 1-12 on the second night of back-to-back games.

KNICKS 107, MAVERICKS 77

DALLAS (AP) — Julius Randle scored 26 points against his hometown team and New York won for the fifth consecutive time in Dallas.

RJ Barrett added 18 points for the Knicks. They won their third straight after a seven-game losing streak and improved to 3-2 on a seven-game trip.

Luka Doncic scored 17 of his 31 points in the third quarter for Dallas. The Mavericks missed their first 19 3-point shots while falling behind by 28 in their lowest-scoring first half of the season.

JAZZ 123, TRAIL BLAZERS 85

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic scored 27 points, hitting six 3-pointers, to lead Utah past Portland.

Donovan Mitchell added 16 points, and Royce O’Neale had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz. They have won eighth straight at home.

Trendon Watford scored a career-high 22 points for Portland. The Trail Blazers have lost six straight games since the All-Star break.

NUGGETS 106, KINGS 100

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 38 points, 18 rebounds and seven assists and Denver Nuggets held off Sacramento after blowing an 18-point lead.

Monte Morris added 20 points and made a critical three-point play late to help preserve the Nuggets’ fourth consecutive win and 12th in the last 14 games.

De’Aaron Fox had 32 points and 10 assists for Sacramento.

BULLS 114, PISTONS 108

DETROIT (AP) — DeMar DeRozan scored 16 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter and Chicago beat Detroit to snap a five-game losing streak.

Zach LeVine added 25 points for the Bulls, and Nikola Vucevic had 21 points. They won despite only hitting three 3-pointers.

Cade Cunningham had 22 points for the Pistons, but no one else scored more than 12. Detroit had won three straight.

MAGIC 108, PELICANS 102

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Cole Anthony scored 19 points, Gary Harris added 16 in a reserve role and Orlando beat New Orleans.

CJ McCollum scored 32 points for New Orleans. Jonas Valanciunas had 30 points and 15 rebounds.