NBA

Paul leads Suns to drought-breaking playoffs spot as 76ers also clinch and Westbrook stars

By Sports Desk April 29, 2021

Chris Paul scored 28 points as the Phoenix Suns ended their decade-long NBA playoff drought with a 109-101 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

Paul posted 25 points in the second half, finishing with three rebounds and 10 assists as the Suns (44-18) returned to the postseason for the first time since 2009-10.

Phoenix's playoff drought was the second longest active in the NBA, with only the Sacramento Kings waiting longer.

All-Star Paul, who joined Western Conference hopefuls the Suns from the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, said: "It means a lot. It's a special team. To be reconnected with a coach [Monty Williams] who coached me 10 years ago.

"He trusted me as a 35-year-old who a couple of years ago they said was done."

The Philadelphia 76ers – second to the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference – also secured their playoff berth courtesy of a 127-83 rout of the Atlanta Hawks thanks to a team-high 20 points from Seth Curry.

The 76ers have now made the postseason for four consecutive seasons, which is their longest streak since they made five straight playoff appearances from 1999 to 2003.

 

Records fall as Jazz hit franchise best

NBA leaders the Utah Jazz scored a franchise-record 154 points as they humbled the Kings without All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley. The Jazz won 154-105, blowing their opponents apart with a 46-17 second period, which tied as a franchise-record quarter differential.

Former MVP Russell Westbrook (18 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists) led the Washington Wizards to their 11th triumph from their past 13 games, while condemning defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers to their fourth defeat from their past five in a 116-107 win. It was Westbrook's third season with 30-plus triple-doubles, no other player in NBA history has had more than one season with 30-plus triple-doubles.

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra reached a rare feat on Wednesday as last season's NBA Finals runners-up topped the San Antonio Spurs 116-111. Spoelstra recorded his 600th career win – the 27th coach in league history to reach that amount. Dejounte Murray also became the third player in Spurs history to record four-plus triple-doubles in a season, following in the footsteps of David Robinson and Johnny Moore.

Jaylen Brown (38 points) and Jayson Tatum (35 points) became the first Boston Celtics team-mates to each record 35-plus points in a game since 2006 as the franchise defeated the Charlotte Hornets 120-111.

 

Love struggles

Kevin Love was held scoreless until the fourth quarter. While he collected 10 rebounds and tallied six assists, 2016 NBA champion Love was just two-for-11 shooting in 35 minutes, making just two of 10 of his three-point attempts.

 

You be the judge?

Zion Williamson was denied a game-tying lay-up in the dying seconds of the New Orleans Pelicans' 114-112 loss to the Denver Nuggets, although the block from MVP candidate Nikola Jokic appeared to be a missed foul.

 

Wednesday's results

Orlando Magic 109-104 Cleveland Cavaliers
Philadelphia 76ers 127-83 Atlanta Hawks
New York Knicks 113-94 Chicago Bulls
Boston Celtics 120-111 Charlotte Hornets
Washington Wizards 116-107 Los Angeles Lakers
Miami Heat 116-111 San Antonio Spurs
Portland Trail Blazers 130-109 Memphis Grizzlies
Denver Nuggets 114-112 New Orleans Pelicans
Phoenix Suns 109-101 Los Angeles Clippers
Utah Jazz 154-105 Sacramento Kings

 

Nets at Pacers

The star-studded Nets (42-20) are getting their troops back and they make the trip to face the Indiana Pacers (29-32) on Thursday.

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    A Diogo Jota double eliminated the Gunners from the EFL Cup at the semi-final stage on Thursday as Jurgen Klopp's side ran out 2-0 victors across the two-legged tie.

    Arteta's side rarely troubled the Liverpool goal, bar an early Alexandre Lacazette free-kick hitting the crossbar, and their focus is now solely on the league as they are out of every other competition.

    But the Spaniard believes his team can utilise their outing against the Reds to develop upon on Sunday against Burnley, who they have lost just one of their last 18 league games against.

    "I will show them what they have done against Liverpool and demand more of ourselves as well," he told reporters at his pre-match news conference.

    "We did a lot of good things but it is not enough to win the tie across two games against them, and this is the level of excellence we have to look for."

    Burnley are winless in their last 11 Premier League away games, drawing four and losing seven, but have not played in the top flight since January 2 due to various coronavirus-enforced postponements.

    The Clarets will be without the in-form Maxwel Cornet for the trip to Emirates Stadium as well, but Arteta expects a tough task against Sean Dyche's relegation battlers.

    "They are a competitive team and Sean always puts them out there for a difficult game," he added.

    "For us, it is a massive game after the defeat and disappointment – we have to get back on track and get winning."

    Burnley did win 1-0 on their last league visit to Arsenal and are looking for consecutive such victories for just the third time, after doing so in 1950 and 1960.

    While aware of his side's need to regain their form, Arteta insisted Arsenal are not feeling the heat of the top-four race as they sit in sixth – two points behind fourth-placed West Ham having played two games fewer.

    However, north London rivals Tottenham are fourth, a point ahead of the Gunners, while boasting a one-game advantage over their neighbours.

    "We are here to win football matches and that is the pressure, we know the amount of matches we have to win if we want to be up there," Arteta continued.

    "We can't look too far ahead, there has been a lot happening in recent weeks and it has been extremely difficult to manage the squad and the team.

    "We have lost a lot of players and we have to reunite, win on Sunday and move from there. Then we have a window to hopefully get some players back."

  • Australian Open: Defending champion Osaka suffers third-round exit at hands of Anisimova Australian Open: Defending champion Osaka suffers third-round exit at hands of Anisimova

    Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka squandered two match points as she suffered a shock third-round exit at the hands of unseeded Amanda Anisimova on Friday.

    Osaka eased past Camila Osorio and Madison Brengle in straight sets in the first two rounds but fell to a 4-6 6-3 7-6 (10-5) loss to Anisimova in a thrilling contest.

    Anisimova, who won her second career title at Melbourne Summer Set 2 earlier this month and is now 8-0 for the season, will face top seed Ash Barty in the last 16.

    Two-time Australian Open winner Osaka had won 24 of her past 25 matches in Melbourne and made a fast start against Anisimova by breaking her opponent in the first game.

    She held serve to ease ahead on Margaret Court Arena, but Anisimova battled back well in the second set.

    The world number 60 broke Osaka in the fourth game with a sublime disguised backhand drop and served out the set in a relatively straightforward manner.

    Anisimova continued to dig in and saved two match points in the 10th game to help pave the way for a decisive first-to-10 tie-break.

    Osaka had no response to her opponent's accurate hitting as she fell 3-0 behind and, while she did bring it back to 3-2 and 5-4, Anisimova took five of the next six points to advance in a big upset.

    DATA SLAM: Osaka outgunned by Anisimova

    Osaka had dropped just one set in her first five matches this season and looked in the mood as she raced ahead against Anisimova.

    But the American youngster fired in 11 aces and hit more than twice the number of winners that Osaka managed (46 to 21) to pull off the victory.

    With this defeat, Osaka has now failed to defend any of her four major crowns, with Victoria Azarenka the last women's player to do so at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Anisimova – 46/44
    Osaka – 21/45

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Anisimova – 11/8
    Osaka – 5/3

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Anisimova – 1/8
    Osaka – 1/10

  • Australian Open: Defending champion Osaka suffers third-round exit at hands of Anismova Australian Open: Defending champion Osaka suffers third-round exit at hands of Anismova

    Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka squandered two match points as she suffered a shock third-round exit at the hands of unseeded Amanda Anisimova on Friday.

    Osaka eased past Camila Osorio and Madison Brengle in straight sets in the first two rounds but fell to a 4-6 6-3 7-6 (10-5) loss to Anisimova in a thrilling contest.

    Anisimova, who won her second career title at Melbourne Summer Set 2 earlier this month and is now 8-0 for the season, will face top seed Ash Barty in the last 16.

    Two-time Australian Open winner Osaka had won 24 of her past 25 matches in Melbourne and made a fast start against Anisimova by breaking her opponent in the first game.

    She held serve to ease ahead on Margaret Court Arena, but Anisimova battled back well in the second set.

    The world number 60 broke Osaka in the fourth game with a sublime disguised backhand drop and served out the set in a relatively straightforward manner.

    Anisimova continued to dig in and saved two match points in the 10th game to help pave the way for a decisive first-to-10 tie-break.

    Osaka had no response to her opponent's accurate hitting as she fell 3-0 behind and, while she did bring it back to 3-2 and 5-4, Anisimova took five of the next six points to advance in a big upset.

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