Devin Booker scored 25 points before fouling out in the final minute, Chris Paul made clutch free throws on a night everyone was missing, and the Phoenix Suns escaped with an 84-80 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night to take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.
The Suns can advance to the NBA finals for the first time since 1993 with a victory on Monday night in Phoenix.
The Clippers struggled with poor shooting in all but the third quarter, when they made 10 of 17 shots to pull within three points. They got within one four times in the fourth, but could not take the lead in front of a sellout crowd of 18,222 that hung on every agonizing miss. “It was a crazy, emotional game,” Paul said.
LA shot 32% (27 of 83) for the game; Phoenix was barely better at 36% (31 of 86). The Clippers made five three-pointers in the game; the Suns hit four.
“That was a slugfest,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “It wasn’t Offense 101, for sure.”
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said, “We had a chance to take the lead on 12 possessions and couldn’t do it. It just wouldn’t fall for us.”
Deandre Ayton added 19 points and a career playoff-high 22 rebounds, and Paul had 18 points and seven assists. Paul George had 23 points, 16 rebounds and six assists before fouling out with one second left. Reggie Jackson added 20 points for the Clippers. Ivica Zubac had 13 points and 14 rebounds.