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The Phoenix Suns have qualified for their first appearance in the post-season in 11 years after a 109-101 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in a battle of two of the Western Conference’s best teams at Phoenix Suns Arena.
The home side bounced back from losses in their previous two encounters this season against the Clippers, who rallied later after starting the fourth quarter down 86-80.
Chris Paul’s steady hand led the Suns down the stretch in the face of the Clippers’ resurgence, with the veteran shooting 10 of 15 from the field to finish with 28 points and 10 assists.
The Suns will next face the West’s leaders Utah Jazz, who snapped a two-game losing streak with a franchise-record 154-105 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings take on fellow Californians the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, with the Lakers keen to improve after they fell to the Washington Wizards for their fourth loss in five games.
The Wizards’ Russell Westbrook claimed his 13th triple-double for April and Bradley Beal contributed to his league-leading total of points by pouring in 27 against the injury-hit reigning champions.
The Orlando Magic gave up a 23-point lead and almost lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers before closing it out 109-104, while the Boston Celtics recorded a 120-111 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
Elsewhere, the Miami Heat went on a 17-0 run in the second half as they defeated the San Antonio Spurs 116-111, while the Portland Trail Blazers held onto seventh spot above the Spurs (ninth) in the West with a 130-109 win against the eighth-placed Memphis Grizzlies.
The New York Knicks celebrated their 10th victory in 11 games off the back of 34 points from Julius Randle as they downed the Chicago Bulls 113-94.
Nikola Jokic (32 points) blocked Zion Williamson’s shot from behind with 2.2 seconds left to ensure the Denver Nuggets recorded a 114-112 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, while the Philadelphia 76ers became the second team in the Eastern Conference to qualify for the play-offs after they built an early lead before crushing the Atlanta Hawks 127-83.