Anthony Edwards scored 27 points and helped spark a late run that propelled the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 107-101 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday in a clash of teams that had been tied for the Western Conference lead. 

Karl-Anthony Towns had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Rudy Gobert amassed 12 points and 18 rebounds as the Timberwolves bounced back from Saturday's one-point loss at Sacramento and dropped the Thunder to third place in the tightly bunched conference standings.

The Denver Nuggets moved a half-game ahead of Oklahoma City and remained a half-game behind Minnesota with Monday's win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Oklahoma City had erased a 10-point third-quarter deficit to take a 97-96 lead on two Shai Gilgeous-Alexander free throws with 2:43 left, but Minnesota's Jaden McDaniels hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to start a pivotal 9-0 spurt.

The Thunder would miss their next four shots as the Timberwolves began pulling away. Edwards followed McDaniels' trey with a running dunk and McDaniels scored on a tip-in before Towns capped the run with two free throws that put Minnesota up 105-97 with 15.5 seconds to go. 

Minnesota owned a 62-52 advantage nearing the midway mark of the third quarter before the Thunder seized momentum with an 11-0 run. Gilgeous-Alexander had six points and Jalen Williams scored the last five of the flurry, which gave Oklahoma City a 63-62 edge with five minutes left in the period.

The Thunder, who were coming off a stunning 120-104 loss to the NBA-worst Detroit Pistons on Sunday, received 37 points and eight assists from Gilgeous-Alexander and 20 points from Williams. 

Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City's third-leading scorer at 17 points per game, was held to just four points on 2-of-9 shooting, however, as the Timberwolves finished with a 46-34 point advantage in the paint.

Jokic has another triple-double as Nuggets spoil Rivers' debut with Bucks

Jamal Murray scored 35 points and Nikola Jokić posted his 14th triple-double of the season to power the Denver Nuggets to a 113-107 win over Milwaukee in Doc Rivers' first game as the Bucks' head coach.

Jokic compiled 25 points, 16 rebounds and 12 assists to add to his league-leading triple-double count and help the defending NBA champions keep pace with first-place Minnesota in the West. The Nuggets have now won five of their last six games.

Rivers, who coached the Boston Celtics to an NBA title during the 2007-08 season, was hired shortly after the Bucks dismissed Adrian Griffin on Jan. 23 despite sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference with a 30-13 record. Assistant Joe Prunty coached Milwaukee's last three games and went 2-1.

The veteran coach's tenure started off strong as the Bucks jumped out to a 24-11 lead midway through the first quarter, though the Nuggets ended the period on a 12-0 run to cut their deficit to 26-25 entering the second. 

Denver gradually asserted control and owned an 84-75 advantage early in the fourth quarter, but the Bucks hit three straight 3-pointers during a 13-2 spurt that put them back ahead with under nine minutes to play.

The game remained tight until the Nuggets pulled away with an 8-0 run, which Murray capped with a jumper that gave Denver a 106-97 lead with 3:17 to go.

Giannis Antetokounmpo paced Milwaukee with 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting along with 12 rebounds, while Brook Lopez had 19 points and Damian Lillard finished with 18 in the loss. 

Suns bounce back by handing Heat seventh straight loss

The Phoenix Suns kept rolling behind a balanced attack and strong defence that resulted in a 118-105 victory over the reeling Miami Heat, the seventh consecutive loss for the defending Eastern Conference champions.

Eric Gordon scored 23 points off the bench to lead six Phoenix players in double figures in a game the Suns led by as much as 28 points en route to stopping a two-game losing streak.

The Suns also got 22 points from Devin Booker and 20 from Kevin Durant, with both stars finishing with eight rebounds and seven assists each.

Miami went 14 of 36 from 3-point range but was stonewalled from inside the arc, shooting a subpar 39.6 per cent on 2-point attempts in this latest defeat. The Heat have lost seven straight for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

Jimmy Butler led Miami with 26 points and recent acquisition Terry Rozier had 21 in his fourth game with the Heat.

Miami shot just 35.4 per cent in the first half as the Suns built a 62-49 lead at the break, and its shooting woes continued as Phoenix extended the margin in the third quarter. 

Booker had 12 points and the Suns shot over 68 per cent for the period to open up a commanding 100-74 advantage entering the fourth quarter.

Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd heaped praise on Luka Doncic after his franchise-record 73 points helped them past the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, declaring: "He is the game plan".

The Mavs arrived at State Farm Arena looking to halt a three-game losing run, and Doncic ensured they did exactly that with a historic performance in their 148-143 victory.

He tied Wilt Chamberlain and David Thompson for the fourth-best return in NBA history. Chamberlain also holds the scoring record with a 100-point game and also had a 78-point performance to his name, while Kobe Bryant racked up 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.

Doncic's incredible performance came just four days after the Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid brought up 70 points in a win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Kidd was more than happy to let Doncic take centre-stage and believes the Slovenian will have been frustrated to miss out on a triple-double after adding 10 rebounds and seven assists.

"He is the game plan," Kidd said of Doncic. "The three assists are what he's probably thinking about in the locker room to have a triple-double!"

Doncic himself was focused purely on helping Dallas end their slump, saying: "We've been struggling lately, so the mindset was to go and get a win. We played great."

He was not the only player to put in a huge performance on Friday, with Devin Booker scoring 62 points for the Phoenix Suns, only to finish on the losing side against the Indiana Pacers. 

Obi Toppin's putback broke a tie with just under four seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, guiding Indiana to a 133-131 victory and ruining Booker's remarkable display.

"He's a great player," Toppin said of Booker. "But in that fourth quarter, we decided to hit and send another defender to get the ball out of his hands and just scramble out of that. They didn't like it at all. I think it was their worst quarter.

"We needed points so our objective was just to get involved, crash the boards. I saw Bennedict [Mathurin] try to finish over someone and then Pascal [Siakam] was right in front of me, so I just grabbed the ball and put it in."

Luka Dončić scored a franchise-record 73 points to tie for the fourth-most in NBA history in the Dallas Mavericks’ 148-143 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Doncic surpassed his previous career high of 60 points after scoring a team-record 41 in the first half.

He joined Wilt Chamberlain and David Thompson as players to score 73 points. Chamberlain, who owns the NBA record with 100 points, also had a 78 and a 73-point game, while Kobe Bryant scored 81 on Jan. 22, 2006.

Doncic shot 25 of 33 from the field, was 8 of 13 from 3-point range and made 15 of 16 free throws. He also had 10 rebounds and seven assists in 44 ½ minutes.

No other player has ever had as many points, rebounds and assists in the same game as Doncic did.

His milestone game came in his original NBA home, at least for a few minutes. Doncic was drafted by the Hawks with the No. 3 overall pick in 2018 before having his draft rights traded to Dallas for Young with the No. 5 pick and a 2019 first-round pick used to select Cam Reddish.

Josh Green had 21 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. was the only other Dallas player in double figures with 13 points. The Mavericks snapped a three-game skid and sent the Hawks to their fourth straight loss.

Trae Young led Atlanta with 30 points and Jalen Johnson added 25.

Pacers rally to spoil Booker’s big night

Obi Toppin snapped a tie on a putback with 3.4 seconds remaining and the Indiana Pacers overcame Devin Booker’s 62 points in a 133-131 win, snapping the Phoenix Suns’ seven-game winning streak.

Booker scored 50 or more points for the second time this season and seventh time in his career, falling eight shy of matching his career-high 70 set at Boston on March 24, 2017.

Pascal Siakam scored 31 points and Toppin finished with 23 and 11 rebounds to help Indiana win its second straight without All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton.

The Pacers fell behind 54-37 in the second quarter but whittled the deficit down to 80-70 at halftime. They trailed 114-105 entering the fourth but tied it twice in the final 90 seconds before Toppin’s basket won it.

Harden powers Clippers past Raptors

James Harden had 22 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for his 75th career triple-double to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to their fourth straight win, 127-107 over the Toronto Raptors.

Harden, who notched his first triple-double this season, ranks eighth all-time in that category. He has at least 20 points and 10 assists in each of his last three games.

Paul George scored 21 points and Russell Westbrook added 20 as the Clippers won for the 12th time in 14 games.

Scottie Barnes scored 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter for the Raptors, who lost their fourth straight and ninth in 11 games.

Devin Booker labelled the fit-again Bradley Beal's return as a "game-changer" as the full-strength Phoenix Suns put the Charlotte Hornets to the sword on Friday.

Beal returned to the court after a five-game absence due to an ankle injury, collecting seven assists as the Suns condemned the Hornets to a 10th straight NBA loss with a 133-119 victory.

Booker racked up 35 points, while Kevin Durant had 21 and 11 assists to go with another free-scoring showing, although the former credited Phoenix's roster for a resounding triumph over the struggling Charlotte.

"It's a game-changer, being at full strength," Booker said. "The offense was moving, the ball was hopping around and we were getting the best available shot."

Beal also managed six points and three rebounds in a 30-minute performance, while Jusuf Nurkic had 24 and 16 rebounds, Eric Gordon scored 21 and Grayson Allen posted 16.

"It's just good to be back on the floor," Beal said. "We got the win and finish the game, that's all I cared about tonight."

On the well-rounded scoring, Beal added: "That's what we want, that's the beauty of it.

"There's a lot of threats out there, guys who are very versatile. We can shoot the ball really well."

Phoenix went back-to-back with NBA victories for the first time since a seven-game run that ended on November 29, much to the delight of coach Frank Vogel, who also hailed Beal.

"I loved his floor game tonight," Vogel said about his returning player. "A lot of times [in returning from injury] guys will have a tendency to force, but he let the game come to him.

"We have a team that is selfless. We have a chance to be special."

The Hornets were again without the injured LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward, though Terry Rozier led the way with 42 points on 14-of-21 shooting.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford conceded the Hornets "just couldn't stop" the Suns before adding: "With that effort, that approach, really not a good second half [Thursday] night, getting in here late, guys playing big minutes last night. I was proud of them."

Kevin Durant was relieved to play a leading role in ending the Phoenix Suns' three-game losing streak against the Houston Rockets.

He registered a career-high 16 assists to go with 27 points and 10 rebounds in his 18th career triple-double on Wednesday, giving the Suns a 129-113 win.

Durant shot 9 of 16 from the field and 3 of 7 from 3-point range as Phoenix snapped a three-game losing run with its first road victory since Nov. 26.

Eric Gordon also scored 27 points in his first game back in Houston since being traded in February. He had 17 points in the Suns' 43-point second quarter.

The Suns are back in action against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday and Durant is thrilled to go into a six-game homestand – their longest of the season – with a key road win behind them.

"It was amazing to get back on the winning side," he said.

"It sucks losing. Having a tough stretch in the NBA is one of the worst feelings you can have, regardless of how many games we play in a season."

Phoenix is 15-15 after winning just three of their last 10 games, putting them 10th in the Western Conference.

"Kevin just got into an aggressive mode to score or pass," added Suns coach Frank Vogel.

"Taking the ball in the backcourt, running a high volume of pick and rolls and just being aggressive. He really led us."

Devin Booker had 20 points for the Suns and there were 16 points from Grayson Allen.

Alperen Sengun had 24 points and Jalen Green added 23 for the Rockets, who have lost four of six following a five-game winning streak.

The Rockets fell to 15-14 after Gordon made his mark on his return to Houston, sinking seven 3-pointers.

"It was great to be back here – I had a lot of good memories and a lot of fun here and it was a major turning point in my career, coming to Houston," said Gordon.

Phoenix Suns head coach Frank Vogel described Devin Booker as a "professional scorer" as he stepped up in Kevin Durant's absence on Friday, starring in a 110-89 road victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The In-Season Tournament game was the first Durant has missed all season, with Phoenix's leading scorer complaining of soreness in his right foot before the game.

However, the Suns made light of his absence as Booker stepped up with a season-high 40 points, while Eric Gordon added 20 as Phoenix extended its winning streak to six games.

Asked about Booker's efforts in the aftermath of the win, which took Phoenix to 3-1 in the tournament, Vogel said: "The guy's just a professional scorer. He is a big reason we are having this six-game win streak."

With Phoenix waiting to see how Durant's condition develops, Booker says it will be difficult for the team to replace his contribution.

"It's tough", Booker said. "You can't replace what he brings to the court. His scoring ability, his versatility on defense. It's going to take a lot of extra from everybody else."

With the Los Angeles Lakers winning Group A of the In-Season tournament with a 4-0 record, the Suns must wait on other results across the Western Conference to see whether they have done enough for a wild-card spot.

Phoenix was made to endure something of a Memphis resurgence in the second half as the hosts cut their lead to single digits, but guard Jordan Goodwin scored eight straight Suns points in the fourth quarter to kill any hopes of a comeback.

"He was great," Vogel said of Goodwin, who finished with 14 points and added five rebounds in 20 minutes on the court.

"You know, he's had some ups and downs this year. We've been challenging him as a coaching staff to be better on both sides of the ball.

"He competes defensively but staying within the framework of what we're asking him to do… to see it all come together for him was a great night for all of us, as coaches, trying to challenge a player and see him respond, and for him, to respond and have a great night."

Devin Booker gave the Suns a huge boost with 31 points in his return and Phoenix snapped the Minnesota Timberwolves’ seven-game winning streak, 133-115 on Wednesday.

Kevin Durant also scored 31 points and Eric Gordon added 15 as Phoenix avoided a third straight loss.

Booker returned after missing five games with a strained calf, but Bradley Beal was a late scratch with a sore back.

The Suns have yet to have their three stars - Booker, Durant and Beal - play a game together.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points on his 28th birthday and Mike Conley added 14 points for Minnesota, which lost its first game in November.

Phoenix was never seriously threatened, taking a six-point lead after one quarter, a 22-point lead at halftime and a 28-point advantage entering the fourth.

 

White leads surging Celtics past 76ers

Derrick White scored 14 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to propel the short-handed Boston Celtics to a 117-107 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in a matchup of Eastern Conference heavyweights.

Jayson Tatum had 29 points and Jrue Holiday added 18 with 10 rebounds to help Boston win its fourth straight despite missing Jaylen Brown (non-COVID illness) and Kristaps Porzingis (right knee contusion).

The 76ers got 20 points apiece from Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey in its second consecutive loss following eight straight wins.

Sam Hauser and Al Horford filled in for Brown and Porzingis and combined for 22 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and six blocks.

 

Lillard stars as Bucks win without Antetokounmpo

Damian Lillard poured in 37 points to go with 13 assists and the Milwaukee Bucks overcame Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence in a 128-112 win over the Toronto Raptors.

Lillard was 9 of 18 from the field and 15 of 16 from the free throw line while hitting four of Milwaukee’s season high-tying 20 3-pointers.

Antetokounmpo missed his first game of the season due to a strained right calf.

Malik Beasley scored a season-high 30 points on 11-of-14 shooting – including 8 of 11 from long range – as the Bucks avenged a loss at Toronto earlier this month.

Scottie Barnes led the Raptors with 29 points and Jakob Poeltl had 13 and 11 boards.

Phoenix Suns star duo Kevin Durant and Devin Booker had nothing but praise for San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama.

The Spurs beat the Suns 132-121 on Thursday, with the number one overall pick Wembanyama marking his arrival in the NBA with a 38-point performance.

Ten of those points came in the final 4:15 as the French teenager took the game away from the Suns down the stretch.

It marked the Suns' second defeat on the spin to the Spurs, and Durant and Booker, who combined for 59 points, were not afraid to pile the plaudits onto the 19-year-old swiftly emerging as San Antonio's talisman.

"He's an unbelievable talent," said Booker. "Everyone knows that. We're just trying to figure what he is because we've never seem him before.

"We got him early in the season. Hopefully, next time we play him we can make some adjustments to make it tougher. But he has an advantage being 7-4 and being able to shoot over everybody."

Two-time NBA champion Durant added: "I don't see anyone else like him in this game.

"We're both skinny and I know he watched me growing up, but he's his own player.

"His enthusiasm for the game – you can tell that through the TV and playing against him.

"He's his own player, own person. He's going to create his own lane and is much different than anyone else who has played."

Wembanyama has averaged 20.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists across his first five NBA games.

"He's a multi-faceted player – he’ll pass to the open guy," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

"He's got confidence in himself. He made some plays that were unbelievable. That combination is pretty good."

Wembanyama, though, pointed out that it remains a team game.

"Every game is different," he said. "We got our third win. Every game we try to find the spots that we need to hurt them.

"Today, it might have been in this way. Tomorrow, it will be someone else. That is how great teams work. If we want to be great, we need to play with everyone."

Victor Wembanyama had the best game of his young career with 38 points and sparked a decisive fourth-quarter run as the San Antonio Spurs squandered a 27-point lead before pulling away for a 132-121 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday.

Wembanyama produced a handful of highlight plays in his fifth NBA game, including a flying dunk in the lane in the second quarter. The 7-foot-4 phenom shot 15 of 26 and grabbed 10 rebounds.

He hit a 3-pointer, made three free throws, dunked and hit an 18-foot jumper during a 12-0 run after the Suns erased a 27-point deficit to tie it at 116 with 4:21 remaining.

Devin Booker scored 31 points in his return from a sprained ankle and added 13 assists and nine rebounds, while Kevin Durant tallied 28 points.

The Spurs beat the Suns in Phoenix for the second time in three days after a stunning 115-114 victory on Tuesday, when they rallied from a 20-point deficit.

Embiid leads 76ers past Raptors

Joel Embiid tallied 28 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 114-99 win over the Toronto Raptors in their first game since trading James Harden.

Kelly Oubre Jr. had 23 points and Tyrese Maxey added 18 as Philadelphia won its third straight since a season-opening loss.

Scottie Barnes scored 24 points for the Raptors, who have lost four of five, including two losses to the 76ers in six days.

Oubre moved into the starting lineup in place of PJ Tucker, who was also dealt to the Clippers in the Harden deal.

Marcus Morris and Nic Batum did not play in their first game since they were dealt, though Robert Covington and K.J. Martin played some in the final 90 seconds with the game in hand.

Short-handed Pelicans beat Pistons

CJ McCollum poured in 33 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 23 with 13 rebounds as the New Orleans Pelicans overcame a pair of key absences in a 125-116 win over the Detroit Pistons.

New Orleans had a season high in points despite playing top scorers Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson.

Williamson was given the night off in the second half of a back-to-back and Ingram missed his third straight game with right knee tendinitis.

Matt Ryan made his first career start and responded with a personal-best 20 points, making the first four 3-pointers he took and finishing 6 of 8 from long range.

Cade Cunningham had 22 points and 11 assists as Detroit lost its third straight.

Nikola Jokic opened his season with another triple-double and Jamal Murray scored 21 points as the Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 119-107 on Tuesday after raising their NBA championship banner.

Jokic had 29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his 106th career triple-double, which trails only Russell Westbrook (198), LeBron James (107) and Jason Kidd (107) on the career list.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 20 points, Aaron Gordon added 15 and Michael Porter Jr. contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds for Denver, which went 16-4 in the playoffs last season, including a sweep of the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

All of Los Angeles’ starters scored in double figures, led by James’ 21 points in 29 minutes as his playing time was being monitored at the start of his 21st season.

Denver led by as many as 18 points, but the Lakers whittled the lead down to three on James’ 3-pointer with 9:42 remaining.

James’ basket got Los Angeles within 103-96 with just over five minutes to play, but the Nuggets responded with a 10-3 run featuring 3s by Murray and Porter.

Booker sparks Suns past Warriors

Devin Booker scored 32 points and the Phoenix Suns got past the Golden State Warriors 108-104 in Kevin Durant’s return to the Bay Area in a back-and-forth season opener for the Pacific Division powerhouses.

Booker shot 13 of 21 and had eight assists and six rebounds, while Jusuf Nurkic added 14 points and 14 boards – including a key driving layup in the closing seconds - in his Suns debut.

Josh Okogie sank a baseline jumper with 69 seconds left, and Eric Gordon drained a 3-pointer with 45 seconds to play before Stephen Curry’s 3 drew Golden State within 106-104 with 31 seconds to go.

Nurkic’s layup made it a four-point game and Paul’s missed 3 ended the Warriors’ hopes.

Durant scored 18 points on 7-of-22 shooting with 10 rebounds in his first game in front of Bay Area fans since leaving the Warriors after the 2019 NBA Finals.

Curry had 27 points and Chris Paul had 14 points, nine assists and six rebounds in his Warriors debut facing his most recent team.

Nikola Jokic scored 17 of his 29 points during the decisive third quarter and the Denver Nuggets gained the upper hand in their Western Conference semifinal series with a 118-102 rout of the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

Jokic followed his 53-point performance in Game 4 with another stellar display, adding 13 rebounds and 12 assists for his 10th career playoff triple-double, breaking a tie with Wilt Chamberlain for most by a center in NBA history.

Bruce Brown scored 25 points, one shy of his playoff career high, and Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray added 19 apiece as Denver improved to 6-0 at home this postseason for a 3-2 series lead.

The Nuggets turned a 52-49 halftime lead into a 91-74 advantage with a dominant third quarter in which Jokic made seven of eight shots, while Devin Booker scored three points on 1 of 8 from the field.

Booker finished with 28 points but missed 11 of 19 shots, Kevin Durant had 26 points and Deandre Ayton added 14. No other Suns player reached double figures.

Denver can earn a trip to the west finals with a win at Phoenix on Thursday in Game 6.

Visiting 76ers cruise past Celtics

Joel Embiid scored 32 points and Tyrese Maxey added 30 with six 3-pointers to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a surprisingly easy 115-103 victory over the Boston Celtics and a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Philadelphia led by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter as the home fans showered the Celtics with boos.

James Harden had 17 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, Tobias Harris chipped in 16 points and 11 boards and little-used Danuel House Jr. contributed 10 points and five rebounds.

The 76ers can close out the series and advance to the East finals for the first time since reaching the NBA Finals in 2000-01 with a win at home in Game 6 on Thursday.

Jayson Tatum had 36 points but missed all five of his first-quarter attempts and made 11 for 27 from the field. He was part of a poor shooting effort by the Celtics, who shot under 40 percent overall and misfired on 26 of 38 from long range.

Boston cut the deficit to 92-81 with under 10 minutes remaining but Maxey and Embiid responded with consecutive 3s. After Jaylen Brown hit a layup, baskets by House Jr. and Maxey stretched Philadelphia's advantage to 104-88, effectively ending any hopes of a comeback.

Chris Paul hobbled off with an apparent groin problem in the Phoenix Suns' loss to the Denver Nuggets.

The Suns lost 97-87 on Monday, with the Nuggets moving into a 2-0 lead in the series.

There was further concern as Paul left the game in the third quarter, and the Suns can now only hope for the best in regard to his status.

"All we can do is hope he has a speedy recovery," said Devin Booker, who scored 35 points.

"We're going to be behind him. We're going to hold it down while he is out, or if he's out, and just take it from there."

Monty Williams added: "He just came up where he couldn't push off of it or anything.

"We're not quite sure what it is right now, but it seems to be something in the groin area. We'll find out more [on Tuesday].

Should Paul fail to recover, Booker said he is ready to shoulder extra responsibility.

"I mean, the playoffs is a lot, a lot comes with this, so you just have to embrace it," he said.

"Embrace the challenge, embrace the opportunity that we have right now, even down 0-2.

"Get back home, protect our home court and go from there. But a lot is on all of our plates, and that's everybody throughout the playoffs right now."

Devin Booker was lauded for his incredible 47-point performance against the Los Angeles Clippers but acknowledged the Phoenix Suns would take "a good lesson" from their series-clinching win.

The Suns wrapped up a 4-1 series victory with a 136-130 success on Tuesday in which Booker tied his playoff career high. He scored 25 points in the third quarter alone, another high mark in any single quarter.

That display epitomised a sensational series for Booker, who averaged 37.2 points, shooting 60.2 per cent from the field and 85.7 per cent from the foul line.

Only Michael Jordan, in the first round in 1992, had previously averaged 35 or more points on 60 per cent shooting from the field and 80 per cent shooting from the line.

Reflecting on the third quarter, team-mate Kevin Durant said: "It was spiritual.

"I don't scream too much in games as I get older, but when he hit that three at the top of the key, I felt that energy, and I know everyone in the crowd felt it. We feed off his aggression."

Coach Monty Williams added: "When he's going like that, we're not calling any plays."

The fourth quarter was a different story, however.

Booker had only six points as the Clippers, still without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, outscored the Suns by 11 to threaten a fightback.

"I think it's a good lesson for us moving forward," Booker said. "Don't play with your food. Finish out as strong as you can. Keep playing all the way until the whistle blows."

Trae Young kept the Atlanta Hawks' season alive with a deep three-pointer in the final seconds of their 119-117 road victory against the Boston Celtics in Game 5 on Tuesday.

The win, which cut the Celtics' lead to 3-2, looked exceedingly unlikely when a Jaylen Brown three-pointer put Boston ahead 109-96 with 6:10 on the clock.

Seven quick John Collins points brought the Hawks back into the contest, before back-to-back pull-up threes from Young tied things at 111-111 with 2:30 remaining.

After trading free throws late, the Hawks got the ball back with seven seconds, trailing by one with their season on the line.

Showing no fear, Young pulled up from way beyond the three-point line and drilled it, leaving not enough time on the clock for the Celtics to get a shot up.

Young had 14 points in the final 3:18 of play, finishing with a game-high 38 points on 14-of-33 shooting, while also adding a game-high 13 assists as fellow starting guard Dejounte Murray was out serving a one-game suspension.

John Collins chipped in 22 points (nine-of-18 shooting) and Bogdan Bogdanovic made the most of his spot start with 18 points (six-of-nine shooting), six rebounds and five assists.

For the Celtics, Brown was clearly their top performer with 35 points (15-of-23 shooting), while it was another disappointing showing from Jayson Tatum, hitting only one of his 10 three-point attempts on his way to 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Nuggets knock out the Timberwolves

Despite the best efforts of young Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards, the Denver Nuggets prevailed 112-109 in Game 5 to secure the 4-1 series win.

Edwards again led the Wolves in scoring with 29 points (13-of-27 shooting), but he was outgunned by Nuggets guard Jamal Murray.

Murray finished with a game-high 35 points (12-of-23 shooting), making up for Nikola Jokic's uncharacteristic shooting night (28 points on eight-of-29 shooting), although he still collected a big triple-double with 17 rebounds and 12 assists.

The Nuggets will face the Phoenix Suns in the second round.

Booker leads the way as Clippers season comes to an end

Devin Booker capped a terrific individual series with another 47 points and 10 assists as his Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 136-130 in Game 5.

Booker came into the contest averaging 34.8 points and 5.5 assists while shooting 57.1 per cent from the field and 43.5 per cent from deep in the first four games of the series, and he shot 19-of-27 to close things out for a 4-1 series win.

Kevin Durant added 31 points and Deandre Ayton collected 21 points with 11 rebounds, closing the door on a Clippers team that never stood a chance after injuries to both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Chris Paul said he has "never played with this much talent" after helping the Phoenix Suns to an imposing 3-1 lead over the Los Angeles Clippers in their first-round playoff series.

The Suns are among the favourites to reach the Conference Finals from the West given a stacked roster that now includes Kevin Durant alongside Paul and Devin Booker.

Paul (19 points), Durant (31 points) and Booker (30 points) all contributed in Saturday's 112-100 victory, which leaves the Suns one win away from progressing.

At 37, Paul – who spent seven years at the Clippers – has been around the block but this crop of Phoenix stars is among the best he has seen assembled.

"I've never played with this much talent," said Paul, who drained 12 of his points in the fourth quarter. 

"Where people are doubling off of me. I've never seen so many open shots.

"It's something that I'm getting used to. Trying to figure out when to pick your spots, when to be aggressive. We're figuring this thing out on the fly. I'm just happy that a few of them fell tonight."

The Suns were sloppy at the start of the second half, giving up seven straight points in the opening minute, leading to Paul aiming a few choice words at the team from the bench.

"I think the way the third quarter started, I was p*****. We all was," Paul added. 

"We were on the bench sort of going at each other. But it's healthy. Just trying to get us going. I tried to get myself going defensively. The shots, they're going to come."

One potential concern is a lack of depth, with Durant (45), Booker (42) and Paul (38) racking up big minutes – indeed the former two players are clocking an average of 43 minutes in the playoffs.

But Durant gave short shrift to the idea of being overworked.

"How'd I look tonight?" Durant said. "I felt great. I missed a lot of time this season. 

"I want to be out there every minute. I wish I could play 48 every game."

Durant also had high praise for Clippers star Russell Westbrook, who had a game-high 37 points.

Westbrook endured a tough spell at the Clippers' rivals the Los Angeles Lakers, but Durant said he is among the best in the business.

"People going to always criticise when you're successful and doing your thing for this long. Russ has been resilient his whole life. He comes to work, doesn't say much. Just come hoop," Durant added.

"When he retires, people are going to really tell the truth about his game. Right now, the fun thing to do is to make a joke out of Russ. But the way he's been playing since he got with the Clippers is showing everybody who he really is."

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