Home US SportsNBA Phoenix Suns clinch top seed in NBA playoffs in Chris Paul’s return from broken thumb

Phoenix Suns clinch top seed in NBA playoffs in Chris Paul’s return from broken thumb


DENVER — Chris Paul was wanting to rejoin his teammates who had been having all of the enjoyable, even when that meant taking part in his first sport in 5 weeks at altitude.

Paul returned from a damaged proper thumb that had sidelined him for the reason that All-Star break to assist the Phoenix Suns win their seventh straight sport and wrap up the highest seed within the NBA playoffs with a 140-130 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday evening.

“I’ve been playing pickup, 3-on-3, 2-on-2, but 5-on-5 is totally different, especially when your first game back is in Denver. I mean, whew!” mentioned Paul, who had 17 factors and 13 rebounds in serving as the best wingman for Devin Booker, who scored a season-high 49 factors with 10 assists.

The quantity on Booker’s thoughts, nevertheless, wasn’t 49.

“Sixty wins is something I never even thought of, to be completely honest,” he mentioned.

“We have a special team, it’s that simple,” Paul mentioned. “But just being back for the warmup stuff, the pregame stuff, you know what I mean? There’s nothing like being part of this team. I’m just happy that I could get back.”

The Suns trailed many of the sport however used a 36-24 fourth quarter to enhance their NBA-best highway report to 30-6.

“To beat that team, you have to play almost perfect basketball,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone mentioned. “We did it for stretches tonight, but down the stretch they showed why they’re the best team in the NBA.”

The Suns, who received 11 of the 15 video games whereas their 12-time All-Star level guard was out, lead the NBA with a 60-14 report and try to make the NBA Finals for a second straight season after dropping to the Milwaukee Bucks final yr.

“I don’t think one person in our locker room wasn’t thinking about 60 wins and what it meant,” Suns coach Monty Williams mentioned after rising from his boisterous locker room.

“I think getting Chris back tonight gave us a ton of confidence,” Williams mentioned. “And Book having one of the best performances I’ve seen him have since I’ve been here … the fact that he’s not in the MVP conversation is just somewhat silly.”

The big contingent of Suns followers serenaded Booker with chants of “MVP! MVP!” each time he stepped as much as the road — and he responded by sinking 15 of 17 free throws.

Williams mentioned earlier than tipoff he was going to restrict Paul’s minutes, however that did not occur.

“I’m a liar. I said I wasn’t going to play him in the 30s. But I was talking to him and he kept letting me know he was fine,” Williams mentioned. “And once he gets going you do not want to mess with that rhythm.”

The Nuggets received 28 factors from Nikola Jokic, 23 from rookie Bones Hyland and 21 from Aaron Gordon. They shot 59.3% from the ground, however Phoenix was even hotter, hitting at a 60.5% clip.

Mikal Bridges added 22 factors for the Suns, and it was his basket that gave Phoenix the lead for good at 115-114.

Booker was 16-of-25 from the sector, whereas Bridges was 8-of-9. Booker, Bridges and Deandre Ayton performed nicely in Paul’s absence, and Ayton had a career-high 35 factors Wednesday evening in a comeback victory at Minnesota. He had 16 on Thursday evening.

The Suns had been frightened that Paul may miss the rest of the common season due to the thumb damage, however the veteran had been energetic in latest practices in a push to return.

And despite the fact that the Suns did positive with out Paul, Booker mentioned he was thrilled “to see him back there and see him getting his legs back.”

With a nine-game lead over the second-place Memphis Grizzlies with eight video games left for each groups, the Suns wrapped up the very best report within the NBA and home-court benefit all through the playoffs.

“It’s special, man,” Paul mentioned. “It’s been 17 years for me and only the second time I’ve been on a team that won 60 games.”

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