Devin Booker on Wednesday did the heavy lifting offensively, scoring 35 points as the Phoenix Suns edged the Utah Jazz 117-113 in overtime in a Western Conference showdown between the two best teams in the NBA.
The Suns not only won their seventh straight game, but the nail-biting victory gave them an important psychological edge over the Jazz as the season nears the final stretch.
“It came down to perseverance,” Booker said of a thrilling match that lived up to its pre-game billing. “We had the right approach. It wasn’t a pretty win, but any time you can beat a team like that, it is good.”
Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY
The second-place Suns improved to 36-14 and cut the Jazz’s lead atop the Western Conference to 1.5 games.
Both teams came into the contest having won nine of their previous 10.
Chris Paul had 29 points and nine assists, while Deandre Ayton finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds for Phoenix, who picked up their second win in two meetings with the Jazz this season.
Donovan Mitchell scored a game-high 41 points for the Jazz. Mitchell forced the overtime with a key three-pointer late in regulation time in front of the crowd of 5,100 at the Phoenix Suns Arena.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 20 points, while Rudy Gobert chipped in 16 points and 18 rebounds for the Jazz, who have lost two in a row on the road.
NETS 139, Pelicans 111
In New York, Kevin Durant scored 17 points in his return from injury as the Brooklyn Nets clobbered the New Orleans Pelicans.
It was a perfect shooting night for Durant whose return came after star point guard James Harden went out with a hamstring injury.
Durant liked being thrown into the game after starting the night on the Nets bench.
“It worked out. I wasn’t trying to ease into the game,” said Durant, who came off the bench for just the second time in his career. “I knew exactly how I needed to approach it.”
Durant shot five of five from the field, five of five from the free-throw line and two of two from beyond the arc as he was one of seven Brooklyn players to reach double figures in front of 1,700 people at the Barclays Center.
He had missed the previous 23 games with a left hamstring injury and had not played since Feb. 13.
NUGGETS 106, SPURS 96
In Denver, Colorado, Nikola Jokic had 25 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds to help surging Denver beat San Antonio.
Jokic just missed 13th triple-double of the season. Michael Porter Jr added 18 points and 10 rebounds in the opener of the two-game set in Denver.
Denver have won seven in a row and have yet to lose in six games since Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee came over in trade-deadline deals.
Gordon had nine points, while McGee provided energy off the bench in the second half.
Derrick White and Dejounte Murray scored 18 points each for San Antonio.
MAGIC 116, WIZARDS 131
In Orlando, Florida, Bradley Beal returned from a five-game absence to score 26 points, while Russell Westbrook had his 20th triple-double of the season as Washington made a season-best 19 three-pointers to beat Orlando.
Washington snapped a four-game losing streak, but not before they blew most of a 21-point third-quarter lead.
Out since March 27 with a hip contusion, Beal was added to the starting lineup just prior to tip-off and showed no signs of rust.
He made 11 of 19 shots and four of six three-pointers.
Westbrook had with 23 points, 15 assists and 14 rebounds in 26 minutes. He has five triple-doubles in his past six games and is the NBA’s only player averaging double digits in points, rebounds and assists.
Terrence Ross scored 24 points for Orlando.
CELTICS 101, KNICKS 99
Jaylen Brown had 32 points and 10 rebounds as Boston rallied in the fourth quarter to beat New York.
THUNDER 102, HORNETS 113
Jalen McDaniels had a career-high 21 points in his second career start to help Charlotte beat Oklahoma City.
ROCKETS 102, MAVERICKS 93
John Wall had 31 points and seven assists in his return from injury as Houston beat Dallas to snap a five-game skid.
Wall missed the previous four games with swelling in his right knee.
Christian Wood added 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets.
Kristaps Porzingis had 23 points and 12 rebounds in his return for Dallas after missing a game with a sprained right wrist.
Luka Doncic also had 23 points.
PACERS 141, TIMBERWOLVES 137
Aaron Holiday scored 22 points, while brother Justin Holiday had 21 as short-handed Indiana beat Minnesota.
The Pacers were without All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis and three other injured starters.
Karl Anthony-Towns led the NBA-worst Minnesota with 32 points. Anthony Edwards had 27.
HAWKS 113, GRIZZLIES 131
Grayson Allen scored 17 of his season-high 30 points in a dominant third quarter, leading Memphis past short-handed Atlanta.
Additional reporting by AP
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