Devin Booker returned from a four-game COVID-protocol absence and had a near triple-double, helping the Phoenix Suns clinch the NBA’s first playoff spot with a 111-90 win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, March 9 (Thursday, March 10, Manila time).
Booker finished with 23 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds, while Phoenix also got 21 points from Mikal Bridges and 19 points and 10 rebounds from Deandre Ayton. JaVale McGee added 11 points and a season-high 15 rebounds off the bench.
As a team, the Suns outrebounded Miami 55-38, including 14-6 on offense.
The game was a matchup between the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference (Miami) and the squad that leads the Western Conference (Phoenix).
However, both teams were missing star players. The Suns continue to be without point guard Chris Paul (fractured right thumb). The Heat had a new injury of sorts as Jimmy Butler was out due to a sinus congestion.
Miami, which has won 12 of its past 15 contests, was led by Duncan Robinson (22 points), Tyler Herro (17 points), and Bam Adebayo (17 points). Kyle Lowry added 5 points and a game-high 10 assists.
The Heat, who are 24-7 at home, lost Caleb Martin to a left knee injury. He had 2 points in 10 minutes.
In Wednesday’s first quarter, Miami led by 11 points before Phoenix went on a 15-2 run to close the period on top, 29-27. Robinson led all scorers in the quarter with 12 points, thanks to 4-for-8 shooting on three-pointers.
Phoenix held its two-point lead in the second quarter, going to halftime with a 57-55 advantage.
In the third quarter, Phoenix shot 51.9% while holding Miami to 29.2% marksmanship. By the end of the quarter, the Suns had stretched their lead to 91-74.
The Heat never challenged in the fourth. – Rappler.com