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NBA Scores: The Suns are back to being Devin Booker’s team again

It seems like at this point, the East has more true championship contenders – Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and Philadelphia 76ers, though you could make a case for a few others as well – than the West, where every team has real question marks except Denver, although Nikola Jokic has never been to a conference finals yet.

However, the West is much more intriguing to watch night-to-night just because so many teams are jumbled together in meaningful ways. Some examples: No. 2 and No. 3 are tied, just 0.5 games separate No. 5 and No. 8, and 1.0 game separates No. 9 and No. 13.

In the East, there’s not a single instance of two teams being closer than 1.0 game up and down the entire conference. Two of the teams on the bottom end of the East’s playoff picture squared off in our first game of Wednesday night:

Hawks pass Wizards late 122-120

Trae Young finished with a team-high 28 points and 10 assists, but it was De’Andre Hunter that converted the final go-ahead three-point play with just over a minute remaining.

Kristaps Porzingis scored a career-high 43 points in the game, but it wasn’t enough after Atlanta used a 14-0 run that ended early in the fourth to nearly erase a 15-point deficit in the second half.

Celtics breeze by Blazers 115-93

After Portland got out to an early 8-5 start, Boston took control, leading by as much as 17 in the first half and 27 in the second. Jayson Tatum led the charge with 30 points on 11-17 shooting while Dame Lillard was just behind with 27 (7-16) and eight assists.

Cleveland wins rock fight in Miami 104-100

The Heat never led in the second half, but they were within one with a minute and a half remaining and within two with 20 seconds left, just never quite able to get over the hump. Darius Garland had a hand in Cleveland’s final two dagger baskets on his way to a team-best 25 points and seven assists.

Pelicans thwart Mavs offense in 113-106 win

CJ McCollum led the Pelicans with 32 points on just 22 shots, but it was the defense of New Orleans that stood out. Dallas posted their lowest point total since Jan. 28, and Luka Doncic was held under 20 points (in at least five minutes) for the first time since Jan. 14 (only third time this season). He finished with just 15 points on 4-14 shooting as Kyrie Irving was also relatively inefficient, scoring 27 on 10-24.

Bulls smack Nuggets on their home floor 117-96

Nikola Vucevic got the best of his “Nikola” counterpart, scoring 25 points and grabbing 15 boards while Nikola Jokic had a pedestrian night by his standards, 18 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists, flirting with another triple double. Zach LaVine led all scorers with an elite 29 points on 12-18 shooting.

KD-less Suns blow OKC out 132-101

Kevin Durant slipped in pregame warmups for what would’ve been his Phoenix home debut and was held out instead with what the Suns initially called “left ankle soreness”. In post-game, Suns coach Monty Williams called it an ankle sprain, and it sounds like Durant even left the arena in a boot, but Devin Booker had optimism, calling it “just a roll”.

The fans came expecting a show, so Book waltzed into 44 points in just 28 minutes on 17-23 shooting. His four straight games with 35+ points is a franchise-record best streak and best streak across the NBA this season.

Phoenix was 3-0 with KD in the lineup and now extend that win streak to four. In case Durant is out for an extended period of time, the win streak has given them 3.0 games worth of breathing room ahead of the #5 Warriors.

Clippers control for most of 108-100 win over Raptors

The LA Clippers improve to 2-5 with Russell Westbrook after he was a team-high +12 in this one. He finished with seven assists, which leaves him just three away from passing Isiah Thomas on the all-time assists list.

LA led for almost all of the second half, and the star pairing of Kawhi Leonard (24 points) and Paul George (23) each outscored the highest-scoring Raptors, Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes, who each finished with 20 points on 21 shots. Clippers put themselves into position to rise above the play-in soon.

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