NBA

Suns get key win, Doncic's streak ends

By Sports Desk March 12, 2024

Kevin Durant scored 24 of his 37 points in the second half to help rally the Phoenix Suns to a 117-111 win over the hobbled Cleveland Cavaliers in a key inter-conference clash on Monday.

Durant added eight rebounds and six assists for Phoenix, which overcame a 19-point deficit in the second quarter while being boosted by All-Star Devin Booker's return from a sprained ankle.

Booker contributed 27 points on 11-of-22 shooting along with seven rebounds in 38 minutes after missing the Suns' last four games.

Darius Garland went 7 of 10 from 3-point range and finished with 30 points for the Cavaliers, who were again without three injured starters in All-Star Donovan Mitchell, forward Evan Mobley and guard Max Strus. Caris LeVert recorded 17 points and 11 assists in the loss. 

Cleveland has lost two straight and dropped a game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for first place in the Central Division.

Garland and the Cavs came out hot, as the standout guard put up 21 first-quarter points and Cleveland shot 66.7 per cent for the period to build a 41-32 lead. The margin grew in the second quarter, as Garland buried a 3-pointer to cap an 11-2 run that put the hosts up 63-44 with 4:50 left before half-time.

Phoenix closed the gap to 70-63 at the intermission before outscoring the Cavaliers by a 34-21 margin in the third quarter to pull ahead. Durant led the way with 19 points for the period on 6-of-8 shooting. 

Cleveland fought back to tie the game at 104-104 with under eight minutes left, but Booker and Durant led the Suns on a 9-3 flurry that the latter finished with a 3-pointer that gave the Suns a 113-107 lead with 3:43 remaining.

Doncic extends triple-doubles streak, but 30-point run ends

Luka Dončić posted his seventh consecutive triple-double, though his record run of six straight games of at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists came to an end in the Dallas Mavericks' 127-92 rout of the Chicago Bulls.

Doncic recorded 14 assists and 12 rebounds but failed to hit the 30-point mark after being removed from the blowout win midway through the fourth quarter. He finished with 27 points.

Dallas also dominated inside en route to its third consecutive victory, as post players Derrick Lively and Daniel Gafford combined for 44 points on 20-of-21 shooting. Lively missed just one of his 12 attempts while compiling a career-high 22 points, while Gafford was 9 of 9 from the field to end with 20 points.

Gafford is now a perfect 28 of 28 on field goal attempts over his last four games.

The Mavericks set the tone right from the start, as they outscored Chicago by a whopping 44-16 margin in the first quarter while shooting 64.3 per cent as a team. Doncic had 15 points and seven assists for the period and Lively chipped in 10 points in just six minutes.

Chicago never mounted a serious threat the rest of the way, as Dallas took a 62-42 lead into half-time and went ahead by as many as 34 points in the third quarter.

Onuralp Bitim led the Bulls with a career-high 17 points off the bench. Chicago has now lost two straight following a three-game winning streak on the road from March 4-7.

Jokic, Nuggets overcome 22-point deficit to top Raptors

Nikola Jokić compiled a 35-point, 17-rebound, 12-assist triple-double that helped spark a big second-half comeback which lifted the Denver Nuggets to a hard-earned 125-119 win over the Toronto Raptors.

Denver trailed by 21 points in the third quarter and as many as 22 in the game before rallying behind Jokic and Jamal Murray, who recorded 12 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and scored the go-ahead bucket with 6:48 left to play.

Jokic also had a season-high six steals in addition to his 21st triple-double of the season.

The Nuggets moved to 9-1 since the All-Star break, though the underdog Raptors gave the defending NBA champions all they could handle for much of the night.

Toronto opened the second quarter on an 11-0 run to build a 45-32 lead and extended the margin to 68-51 at the break behind 15 points from RJ Barrett and 13 from rookie Gradey Dick.

The Nuggets began chipping away late in the third quarter, as they closed out the period on a 16-5 spurt to trim the deficit to 98-93 entering the fourth. Jokic had 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting for the quarter.

Murray's floater midway through the fourth quarter gave Denver a 108-107 lead, though the Raptors continued to keep it close until Michael Porter Jr.'s 3-pointer with 1:02 left to play proved to be too much to overcome as the Nuggets took a 124-119 edge into the final minute.

Barrett finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and nine assists for Toronto, which also received 24 points from Kelly Olynyk but lost for a fourth consecutive time.

 

 

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