LOS ANGELES, June 14 — Chris Paul and Devin Booker combined for 71 points as the Phoenix Suns completed a four-game sweep of the Denver Nuggets on Sunday to reach the NBA semi-finals for the first time in 11 years.
Paul scored 37 points and Booker finished with 34 points and 11 rebounds as the Suns beat the Nuggets 125-118 to capture the Western Conference second round series 4-0.
“I have been waiting for this for a very long time,” said Booker. “A lot people say I haven’t played meaningful basketball. This is my time to prove it.”
The Suns used a balanced attack to overpower the Nuggets and league MVP Nikola Jokic, who was slapped with a flagrant foul and ejected from the game in the third quarter. Jokic finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
“They beat us. They whipped our butts,” said Jokic. “We have to hold our heads up. If someone beats you, accept it and try to get better.
“The whole season was great until (the) last four games.”
The Suns will play either the Los Angeles Clippers or the Utah Jazz for a spot in the NBA finals.
“We showed what you can do when you come together as a team,” said Paul.
Mikal Bridges scored 14 points, Deandre Ayton had 12 points and Jae Crowder had 10 rebounds for the Suns.
Will Barton had 25 points, Michael Porter scored 20, Monte Morris finished with 19 and Facu Campazzo 14 in the loss.
Elsewhere, Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in 34 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks evened their Eastern Conference second round series with a 107-96 rout of the Brooklyn Nets, who lost Kyrie Irving to an injury.
Antetokounmpo delivered his best performance of the postseason, shooting 14-of-26 from the field and scoring 12 points in the third quarter for the Bucks, who have won two straight at home to level the best-of-seven series at two games each.
“This says a lot,” Antetokounmpo said. “I am really proud of this team. We keep playing together. We put ourselves in a position to win two more games.”
Game five is Tuesday in Brooklyn.
Khris Middleton chipped in 19 points as the Bucks made 44.3 per cent of their shots and hit 16 threes in front of a pandemic-limited crowd of 16,000 at Fiserv Forum.
Their improved perimeter shooting comes after they had managed to make only 22 per cent from three-point range in the first three games.
Antetokounmpo said their goal is to win at least one of the next two on the road. “We will try to get one from Brooklyn,” he said.
Kevin Durant finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds but the Nets struggled offensively after Irving exited the game in the second quarter and did not return.
Irving injured his right ankle with just over six minutes left in the first half after he stepped awkwardly on Antetokounmpo’s foot.
Initial x-rays were negative but Irving is expected to see team doctors again on Monday.
“I thought he got hit. When he went to the locker room they said he sprained his ankle. But we got to keep focusing on ourselves,” Antetokounmpo said.
Irving scored 11 points on five of 11 shooting in 17 minutes before getting hurt. In the first eight games of the postseason, Irving averaged 24.1 points. — AFP