A Chris Paul explosion in the fourth quarter handed the Suns a 129-109 victory over Dallas Mavericks despite more Luka Doncic heroics.
36-year-old Paul sent the NBA world wild after taking over in the final term, scoring 14 of his 28 points to finish with 8 assists and 6 rebounds for the game.
Doncic – who scored 45 points in Dallas’s game one defeat – added a game-high 35 points to go with 7 assists and 5 rebounds, but conceded 5 turnovers as the Suns made it 2-0 in the Western Conference semi-finals.
Watch Live Coverage of The 2022 NBA Playoffs with ESPN on Kayo including every game of The Conference Finals and The Finals. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
Thu, 05 May
Thursday May 5th
The Mavs staged a fourth-quarter comeback in game one at home to make the scoreline a more respectable 121-114. This time around, it was the Suns who went off in the final term, with a 20-2 run putting the game to bed.
Dallas had led by four points at the half after a quiet performance from Devin Booker, who had just nine points at halftime on 4-of-8 shooting.
But he exploded for 21 second-half points on 7-off-11 shooting from the floor to finish with 30 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
Doncic was again left needing more form his supporting cast, with only Reggie Bullock (16 points) and bench player Spencer Dinwiddie (11) reaching double-figures in the points column.
SIXERS HOPEFUL FOR EMBIID RETURN AFTER SECOND DEFEAT
The Philadelphia 76ers are hopeful Joel Embiid can return for Game 3 of their semi-finals series with the Miami Heat — and they will certainly need him.
The Sixers find themselves in a 2-0 hole after falling to a 119-103 defeat to the Miami Heat on Thursday.
James Harden, having struggled in the opening game of the series, stepped up to lead the Sixers with 16 points in the opening half (12 in the second quarter).
Harden only had two points in the third to go with two assists, finishing the game with 20 points, nine assists and four rebounds.
Tyrese Maxey also came up big with 34 points but that was not enough to keep up with a Miami side that rode a strong showing from Tyler Herro.
Having won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award on Wednesday, Herro proved why he had been such an asset off the bench as he powered the Heat to a 60-52 lead at halftime.
Herro had 16 points and five rebounds by that point, having shot 5-for-7 from the floor and 3-for-4 from deep.
Miami’s bench (52 points) ended up easily outscoring Philadelphia (19).
It was not just the bench that was an issue though, with Sixers coach Doc Rivers coming under scrutiny again for his decision to play centres DeAndre Jordan and Paul Reed.
The Sixers found some success with a small-ball line-up but struggled when either centre was on the court.
Rivers was heavily criticised for stubbornly continuing to play Jordan in Game 1 despite suggestions it could cost him the series.
MORE NBA NEWS: Big twist in Simmons saga as Aussie set for surgery on back
“The thing is, Miami’s not an overly big team,” former Sixers great Charles Barkley said on the ‘Inside the Green Room Podcast with Danny Green’ this week.
“They really only have one big guy. So I would turn it into a track meet, a shooting contest, I think that’s the only way the Sixers can win. They’re not going to get killed on the boards, because other than Bam Adebayo, they don’t have a bunch of big guys… I think that’s the only chance the Sixers got until Joel comes back.
“DeAndre needs to be sitting over there beside Doc Rivers and those guys. It’s over for DeAndre. He’s had a hell of a career, but he can’t play, especially in today’s NBA. In today’s NBA, if you can’t move, it’s very difficult for you.”
That is not the only headache Rivers faces though, with Australian Matisse Thybulle also continuing to struggle on the offensive end.
While Thybulle is on paper the best match-up to defend Herro, it is hard for Rivers to continue playing him in critical minutes given his lack of shot-making.
Thybulle played 20 minutes but failed to put up a single point or shot in the game.
To be fair to Thybulle he was not the only one, with Danny Green also struggling big time, managing just three points from 23 minutes on the floor having shot 1-for-10.
Although Thybulle also struggled in Game 5 against the Raptors in their first-round playoff series, shooting 1-of-6, with his only bucket coming off a miss that was mistakenly tipped in.
There was one moment in the fourth quarter where Harden had the ball and Thybulle was in the right corner that spoke to Philadelphia’s headache on how to use the Australian.
The Heat defenders deliberately left Thybulle open in the corner, knowing they did not need to cover him and instead focused their attention on Harden.
Speaking of Harden, he and Maxey did all they could to inspire a Philadelphia fightback late.
The Sixers threatened to force their way back into the game late but faced strong resistance from the Heat, who went on a 11-2 run at one point to ice the win.
While Herro was the hero in the first half, Jimmy Butler (22 points, 11 assists, six rebounds) and Adebayo (23 points, nine rebounds and three assists) also put up big numbers.
Victor Oladipo, meanwhile, was clutch off the bench with 10 of his 19 points in the final quarter.