NBA playoffs

Chris Paul erupts for 41 as Suns win West, eliminate Clippers

Reuters
Chris Paul erupts for 41 as Suns win West, eliminate Clippers

LEADER. Chris Paul takes over for the Suns in the second half.

NBA

Chris Paul and the Suns clinch the first NBA Finals berth after ruling the Western Conference finals in six games over the Clippers

Chris Paul unleashed 31 of his 41 points in the second half and the Phoenix Suns notched a 130-103 victory over the host Los Angeles Clippers to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in 28 years.

Paul was 7-of-8 from three-point range and 16-of-24 overall while helping slay his former organization. He also had 8 assists and 3 steals as the Suns won the Western Conference finals in six games on Wednesday night, June 30 (Thursday, July 1, Manila time).

Devin Booker scored 22 points, Jae Crowder added 19 points, and Deandre Ayton had 16 points and 17 rebounds for the second-seeded Suns.

Marcus Morris Sr. registered 26 points and 9 rebounds, and Paul George added 21 points for the fourth-seeded Clippers. 

Patrick Beverley was ejected with 5:49 remaining when he came up behind Paul and shoved him to the court.

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard (knee) missed his eighth straight game and teammate Ivica Zubac (knee) sat out his second.

Cameron Johnson (non-COVID illness) missed the game for Phoenix, which made 17-of-31 three-point attempts and shot 56.4% overall.

The Suns had previously reached the Finals twice, falling to the Boston Celtics in 1976 and to the Chicago Bulls in 1993. Both series went six games.

Phoenix hadn’t even played in a playoff game since 2010 prior to this season’s run, which included series victories against the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets before the Clippers.

Los Angeles trailed by six early in the third quarter before Phoenix scored 21 of the next 31 points to take an 89-72 lead on Mikal Bridges’ fastbreak basket with 4:01 left in the period.

The Clippers responded with 10 straight points, capped by three-pointers from Morris and Nicolas Batum, to move within seven with 1:43 remaining.

Paul followed by scoring eight straight points to get the Suns’ lead to 15 before they took a 97-83 lead into the final stanza.

Paul continued his torrid play with three straight baskets early in the fourth – he scored 19 in the stanza – to push the Phoenix advantage to 105-85 with 9:39 to play. 

When the Clippers crept within 15, Paul converted a four-point play to make it 111-92 with 7:42 left.

Ayton followed with a driving shot before Paul added a basket and a straightaway three-pointer to make it a 26-point margin with 5:49 left. Paul then hit the technical stemming from Beverley’s ejection to make it 119-92, and Phoenix closed out the convincing victory.

Reggie Jackson scored 13 points, DeMarcus Cousins added 12 and Beverley scored 11 for Los Angeles, which shot 41.8% from the field and made 12-of-39 from behind the arc. – Rappler.com