Booker's crucial free throws tow Suns, derail Blazers' playoff berth

Dario Saric #20 of the Phoenix Suns and Devin Booker #1 hug after the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on May 13, 2021 at Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
BARRY GOSSAGE / NBAE / GETTY IMAGES / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Devin Booker converted on clutch free throws to lift the Phoenix Suns past the Portland Trail Blazers in a thriller, 118-117, at Phoenix Suns Arena on Thursday (Friday, Manila time).

Booker drew a foul on Portland's Norman Powell off a timeout to get to the line and sink the two charities to put the Suns up by one with 2.4 ticks left on the clock.

The free throws completed a four-point swing for the Suns after trailing by three, 114-117 with around 30 seconds remaining.

Damian Lillard made good on a driving layup to pad the Blazers' lead.

Mikal Bridges cut the lead to a single point with two freebies, 116-117.

A missed three by Lillard and an empty trip to the free throw line by Robert Covington left the door ajar for the suns with five ticks left in regulation.

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The win denied Portland of tightening their grip on a playoff berth at the sixth seed with the Los Angeles Lakers breathing down their necks at only half a game behind.

Chris Paul paced the Suns in the gritty win with 26 points while Booker had 18.

Lillard, for his part, led the Blazers with 41 points in the losing effort.

Elsewhere, Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 40 points in the Milwaukee Bucks' 142-133 win over the Indiana Pacers.

The Los Angeles Clippers, for their part, maintained their lead over the Denver Nuggets for third in the West with a win against the Charlotte Hornets, 113-90.

Paul George stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the victory.

The Atlanta Hawks also tightened their hold on their spot in the standings at No. 4 in the East with a 116-93 victory over the also-ran Orlando Magic.

Bogdan Bogdanovic had 27 points to lead the Hawks.

Breathing down Atlanta's neck are the Miami Heat, which kept themselves just half a game behind the Hawks after a 106-94 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Heat handed the Sixers their second loss in a row as they continue to be denied in clinching the top spot in the East.

Bam Adebayo flirted with a triple-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the win.

The New York Knicks, meanwhile, continue their best season in years. They beat the San Antonio Spurs, 102-98, for their 39th win of the year.

Julius Randle had 25 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in the game.

The Chicago Bulls,  Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies also tallied wins in the day's hostlities.

The Grizzlies, who beat the Sacramento Kings, 116-110, handed the Spurs a spot in the play-in tournament despite the latter's loss against the Knicks earlier in the day.

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