Listless Lakers staring down elimination after blowout loss to Suns | NBA

Devin Booker scored 30 points after two quiet games and the Phoenix Suns sent LeBron James to the locker room early, dismantling the Los ...


Devin Booker scored 30 points after two quiet games and the Phoenix Suns sent LeBron James to the locker room early, dismantling the Los Angeles Lakers 115-85 Tuesday night to take a 3-2 first-round series lead.

The Suns won in Los Angeles on Sunday to tie the series and went right at the Anthony Davis-less Lakers in front of a revved-up crowd in Game 5.

Davis was out after suffering a groin injury in Game 4 and the Suns took advantage by attacking every chance they had. The Lakers put up little resistance, allowing Phoenix to score nearly at will while building a 30-point halftime lead – Los Angeles’ largest halftime deficit in 25 years.

The Suns made 14 three-pointers and had just four turnovers against the NBA’s regular-season defensive efficiency leader.

The only bad news: point guard Chris Paul took a shot to his injured right shoulder in the third quarter and did not return.

James scored 17 of his 24 points in the third quarter, but couldn’t rally the listless Lakers. The four-time league MVP sat at the end of the bench by himself in the fourth quarter before heading to the locker room with about five minutes left.

Game 6 is Thursday in Los Angeles.

The series between one-time rivals has been shaped by injuries.

The Suns won the first game in the desert despite Paul injuring his shoulder. Los Angeles won the next two with Paul ailing, then Phoenix took Game 4 102-94 in Los Angeles after Davis went down with a groin injury.

The Suns took advantage of Davis’ absence early in Game 5, repeatedly getting into the lane for shots or kickouts for open looks.

Booker was the biggest beneficiary.

He had been relatively quiet the previous two games – at least for one of the league’s top scorers – scoring a combined 36 points on 11-of-24 shooting. Phoenix’s young All-Star came out firing in the pivotal game of the series, scoring 18 points in the first quarter and hitting a corner jumper to put the Suns up 18 early in the second.

Booker wasn’t the only one dropping shots.

The Suns had their way against Los Angeles’ reach-and-swipe defense, leaving the Lakers flat footed with their quickness and rapid ball movement.

Phoenix made eight three-pointers, 26 of 48 shots and had one turnover to lead 66-36 at halftime. It was the Lakers’ largest halftime deficit since trailing Utah by 26 in 1998, according to SportRadar.

The Suns kept on the gas even as James became more aggressive in the third quarter, maintaining a 29-point lead heading into the final 12 minutes.

Paul reinjured his shoulder midway through the third quarter when he got tangled with Lakers guard Wesley Matthews while fighting for a rebound and hit the floor. Paul pointed toward Matthews as he went off the floor and was immediately attended to by Phoenix’s trainers.

Paul got up after a minute or so and walked around, setting off a round of MVP! chants from the crowd. He returned to the game to hit two free throws and received a loud ovation before heading to the locker room for treatment.

Paul finished with nine points and six assists.

Portland Trail Blazers 140-145 Denver Nuggets (2 OT)

Michael Porter Jr’s three-pointer with 1:33 left in the second overtime helped the Denver Nuggets squelch an epic comeback by the Portland Trail Blazers with a 147-140 win Tuesday night in Game 5 of the first-round playoff series.

“That’s what playoff basketball is,” Porter said after the thriller that included a dozen lead changes and 11 ties.

The Nuggets won despite Damian Lillard’s franchise playoff record 55 points and NBA playoff record 12 three-pointers, including long distance shots that forced overtime and the second OT. He eclipsed the mark of 11 set by Golden State’s Klay Thompson at Oklahoma City on 28 May 2016.

“It was the best playoff performance I’ve ever seen,′ Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “He gave it his all. He made a lot of shots. Look, he gave it his all.

“We’re all disappointed. I have empathy for Dame. I have empathy for anybody on our team. But now’s not the time for empathy. Now’s the time to regroup and come back and get Game 6. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”

Lillard scored 17 of Portland’s 19 points in the two overtimes, but he didn’t score again after his 12th three-pointer in 17 attempts put the Blazers ahead 140-138 with 3:47 left.

And his teammates didn’t score again, either.

Nikola Jokic, who scored 38 points and came one assist shy of a triple-double, tied it at 140 with a layup and Porter broke the tie with a three from the left corner with 1:33 left off a sweet pass from Jokic.

The Blazers still were within three points until a pair of costly mistakes sent them back to Portland for Game 6 on Thursday night trailing the Nuggets 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

First, Robert Covington missed a dunk with 41 seconds left and then CJ McCollum stepped out of bounds with 9.1 seconds left and Lillard setting up for another three.

“It’s a shame we wasted one of the all-time best performances by not being more supportive of him,” McCollum said.

Monte Morris, who scored 28 points off the bench, hit a pair of free throws with 8.8 seconds to seal it, and Shaq Harrison added two free throws with 3.8 seconds remaining.

Lillard broke his own franchise scoring record, a 50-point outburst against Oklahoma City on 23 April 2019.

Lillard’s three-pointer with three seconds left in regulation tied it at 121. His three with 6.4 seconds left in the first overtime tied it at 135 and that capped Portland’s comeback from a quick nine-point deficit in the extra period after Denver hit a trio of threes.

The Nuggets made three quick three-pointers in the first overtime, two by Morris and another by Austin Rivers, to surge ahead 132-123. Portland missed its first five long balls in the extra period before Lillard sank three in the final minute to force a second overtime.

By holding on, Denver improved to 187-1 in games since 2 April 2008, in which they led at any point by 22 or more, including the postseason.

The game looked like a blowout for Denver when the Nuggets went up 54-32 on Paul Millsap’s layup with 7:52 left in the second quarter.

Denver was still ahead 59-39 with five and a half minutes left in the second quarter only to watch the Blazers use a 23-6 run to pull to 65-62 at halftime.

McCollum’s buzzer-beating 11-foot jumper made it a one-possession game at the break. During Portland’s big run, the Nuggets went without a basket for more than four minutes as the biggest crowd of the season – 10,500 – went from exuberant to edgy.

Portland took its first lead at 83-82 on Lillard’s free throw after Jokic was whistled for a technical for arguing for a call.

Boston Celtics 123-109 Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden had just eight games together in the regular season, few enough to wonder how good they could really be.

Five games against Boston provided some answers – and a chance to keep making up for all their lost time.

“We just don’t want to take any of this time for granted,” Irving said. “This doesn’t happen too often kind of in our culture, in our history, where three of the best scorers to ever play the game are on one team.”

Harden had 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his first postseason triple-double with Brooklyn, leading the Nets into the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 123-109 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night in Game 5.

Irving scored 25 points and Durant had 24 for the Nets, who will face the Milwaukee Bucks in their first appearance in the second round since 2014. The No 2-seeded Nets will host Game 1 against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks on Saturday.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Durant said. “I mean, he’s a two-time MVP, Defensive Player of the Year for a reason, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Despite their limited time together during the regular season, the Nets’ three superstars showed how potent they can be in this series, particularly when they combined for 104 points in Game 4.

“We weren’t even worried about the playoff run yet, we were just happy to be on the court together,” Harden said. “So it’s great to get one series out of the way and like I said, we’ll take tomorrow off and we’ll recoup and get ready for a tough Milwaukee team.”

Brooklyn were nowhere near as potent as Game 4, when they rang up 141 points. But a little explosive stretch here and there was good enough to wrap it up.

The finishing one came with the Celtics trailing by just eight with under eight minutes to play. Durant then made a three-pointer, Jayson Tatum turned it over and Irving nailed another three on the break, pushing it to 103-89 with 7:19 to play.

Evan Fournier scored but Harden answered with another three and Bruce Brown scored inside, an 11-2 burst in less than 90 seconds that broke it open at 108-91 midway through the fourth.

Tatum had 32 points and nine rebounds for the Celtics, who made the Eastern Conference finals last year but went quickly with Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker unavailable.

“Jayson continued to make plays. We didn’t do enough as a team. But he showed a lot of mettle this year,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

Fournier added 18 points and Romeo Langford had 17 starting in place of Walker, who missed his second straight game with a knee injury.

“It’s been a lot. Injuries on top of injuries. Guys not being able to play together. A lot of personal stuff. It’s life, things more important than basketball, but you’ve got to be professional,” guard Marcus Smart said.

The Nets were eager to avoid a return to Boston after a fan threw a water bottle at Irving after Game 4, but the clincher didn’t come easily.

The Celtics hung in the game, not letting the Nets build a double-digit lead until a 7-0 burst early in the second half made it 66-54. Boston recovered and trailed just 86-79 after Tatum made a jumper at the buzzer to end the third.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Listless Lakers staring down elimination after blowout loss to Suns | NBA
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