Devin Booker stars as Suns beat Heat to seal NBA playoff berth
Published: Mar 10, 2022 07:55 PM
Devin Booker returned from a four-game absence to power Phoenix over Miami 111-90 on Wednesday in a matchup of conference leaders, clinching an NBA playoff berth for the Suns.

Booker, back after being sidelined by COVID-19 ­protocols, scored a game-high 23 points, passed off nine assists, pulled down eight rebounds, made two steals and blocked two shots for the visitors, who improved to a league-best 53-13.

"I'm just trying to find my rhythm," Booker said. "I had a week off. I felt good. I was ready to get back at it."

The triumph was important to the Suns, who lost 123-100 to Miami at Phoenix on January 8.

Mikal Bridges added 21 points for Phoenix while Bahamas big man Deandre Ayton contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Duncan Robinson led Miami with 22 points. The Heat were without star Jimmy Butler, out with sinus congestion.

The Suns stretched their lead in the Western Conference to 8.5 games over Memphis by dispatching the top club in the Eastern Conference, the Heat falling to 44-23.

Phoenix, which lost last year's NBA Finals to Milwaukee, improved to 22-0 this season when keeping an opponent under 100 points and became the first team to secure a postseason berth.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 43 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to spark the reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks over visiting Atlanta 124-115.

It was the sixth victory in a row for the Bucks, who pulled within two games of the Heat for the conference lead at 42-25. Trae Young led the Hawks with 27 points and 11 assists.

Houston rookie Jalen Green scored a season-high 32 points to power the Rockets to a 109-100 overtime home victory over the Los Angeles Lakers despite a triple-double from LeBron James.

James delivered 23 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists for the Lakers while Russell Westbrook scored 30 points to lead Los Angeles, which fell to 28-37 at ninth in the Western Conference.

Fred VanVleet scored 26 points while Cameroonian playmaker Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes each added 20 points to power the Toronto Raptors over host San Antonio 119-104.

Julius Randle scored 26 points to lead six double-figure scorers for the New York Knicks in a 107-77 rout of host Dallas despite 31 points for the Mavericks from Slovenian star Luka Doncic.

Cole Anthony led five double-digit scorers with 19 points to power the Orlando Magic over host New Orleans 108-102. Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas scored 30 points in a losing cause.