Chris Paul and Devin Booker on Sunday combined for 71 points as the Phoenix Suns completed a four-game sweep of the Denver Nuggets to reach the NBA semi-finals for the first time in 11 years.
Paul scored 37 points, while Booker finished with 34 points and 11 rebounds as the Suns beat the Nuggets 125-118 to capture the Western Conference second-round series 4-0.
“I have been waiting for this for a very long time,” Booker said. “A lot people say I haven’t played meaningful basketball. This is my time to prove it.”
The Suns used a balanced attack to overpower the Nuggets and NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic, who was slapped with a flagrant foul and ejected from the game in the third quarter.
Jokic finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
“They beat us. They whipped our butts,” Jokic said. “We have to hold our heads up. If someone beats you, accept it and try to get better. The whole season was great until [the] last four games.”
The Suns next play either the Los Angeles Clippers or the Utah Jazz for a spot in the NBA Finals.
“We showed what you can do when you come together as a team,” Paul said.
Mikal Bridges scored 14 points, Deandre Ayton had 12 points and Jae Crowder had 10 rebounds for the Suns.
Denver’s Will Barton had 25 points, Michael Porter scored 20, Monte Morris finished with 19 and Facu Campazzo 14 in the loss.
Elsewhere, Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in 34 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks evened their Eastern Conference second-round series with a 107-96 rout of the Brooklyn Nets, who lost Kyrie Irving to an injury.
Antetokounmpo delivered his best performance of the post-season, shooting 14 of 26 from the field and scoring 12 points in the third quarter for the Bucks, who have won two straight at home to level the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
“This says a lot,” Antetokounmpo said. “I am really proud of this team. We keep playing together. We put ourselves in a position to win two more games.”
Game 5 is today in Brooklyn.
Khris Middleton chipped in 19 points as the Bucks made 44.3 percent of their shots and hit 16 three-pointers in front of a COVID-19 pandemic-limited crowd of 16,000 at the Fiserv Forum.
Their improved perimeter shooting comes after they had managed to make only 22 percent from three-point range in the first three games.
Antetokounmpo said their goal is to win at least one of the next two on the road.
“We will try to get one from Brooklyn,” he said.
Kevin Durant finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds, but the Nets struggled offensively after Irving exited the game in the second quarter and did not return.
Irving injured his right ankle with just over six minutes left in the first half after he stepped awkwardly on Antetokounmpo’s foot. Initial X-rays were negative, but Irving was expected to see the team doctors again yesterday.
“I thought he got hit. When he went to the locker room they said he sprained his ankle, but we got to keep focusing on ourselves,” Antetokounmpo said.
Irving scored 11 points on five-of-11 shooting in 17 minutes before getting injured.
In the first eight games of the post-season, Irving averaged 24.1 points.
TWO AND TWO: Lin Chen-hao of Taiwan finished seventh in the women’s U-48kg category, winning two bouts before losses the quarter-finals and a repechage match Naohisa Takato yesterday won Japan’s first gold medal at their home Olympics, beating Taiwan’s Yang Yung-wei in the men’s under-60kg judo final. Yang’s second-place finish is Taiwan’s first medal in Tokyo and the nation’s first-ever medal in an Olympics judo competition. Kosovo’s Distria Krasniqi beat Japan’s Funa Tonaki in the women’s under-48kg final less than an hour before Takato made sure that his team would not have a double heartbreak on the opening day of competition in its beloved homegrown martial art. Takato won his final three bouts in sudden-death golden score, but he took the final a bit anticlimactically after Yang committed
Four key men’s doubles pairings — dubbed by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) as “the group of death” — are to take over two courts side-by-side today just after midday in Tokyo, in matches that already have the badminton world abuzz. What is formally known as Group A pits pairings from Taiwan, Indonesia, India and Britain against one another — the former three ranked in the top 10. Taiwanese pairing Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin are set to challenge Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty of India, while world No. 1 duo Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo of Indonesia are to
After complaining about flying economy class to the Olympic Games, Taiwanese badminton player Tai Tzu-ying appeared satisfied with her hotel room in Tokyo, praising its proximity to the badminton venue. “It saves commuting time and allows more time to rest,” the 27-year-old Tai wrote on Instagram yesterday morning. “It’s very good.” The Athletes’ Village is about 50 minutes by car from the badminton venue, but the hotel is only a 10-minute drive, she said. “It’ll give me more time to rest and prepare, whether before or after a match,” Tai added. Taiwan’s badminton team is staying at the Marroad Inn Tokyo in Chofu City,
KEEP ’EM COMING: In her first Olympic appearance, Lo set a high bar, fighting her way to the final bouts, and earning Taiwan its second medal after Yang Yung-wei’s silver Taiwan’s Lo Chia-ling yesterday clinched the nation’s second medal at the Tokyo Olympics, grabbing a bronze medal in taekwondo in the women’s 57kg class. Nineteen-year-old Lo beat Nigeria’s Tekiath Ben Yessouf 10-6 at Tokyo’s Makuhari Messe convention center. Lo, who is making her first appearance in the Olympic Games, worked her way to the bronze medal contest with an early 20-18 win against South Korea’s Lee Ah-reum in the round of 16, before dropping Canada’s Skylar Park 18-7 in the quarter-final. It was Anastasija Zolotic of the US who denied the former World Taekwondo Junior Championship gold medalist a chance to fight for