Lowly Suns stun Bucks, Clippers deliver blow to Laker playoff hopes
By Agence France-Presse
Kelly Oubre had 27 points and 13 rebounds, and the Phoenix Suns rallied from a 10-point late deficit to complete a season sweep of the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks with a 114-105 win on Monday.
Devin Booker added 22 points and Deandre Ayton hit a key layup with 35 seconds to play that gave the league-worst Suns a four-point lead.
“We can’t back down when a team goes on a run,” Oubre said. “We’ve got to make our own, coming back at them.”
All-star Giannis Antetokounmpo had 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Bucks, who have lost two straight games for the first time this season.
Phoenix appears to have undergone a rebirth of sorts, winning three of their last four contests since suffering a franchise worst 17 game losing streak.
Even more surprising is that they have now beaten Milwaukee both times they have met this season.
“I don’t think we take them as seriously as we should,” Bucks Malcolm Brogdon said. “It’s just a lack of focus.”
Josh Jackson tallied 16 points, Tyler Johnson scored 13 points as the Suns outscored the Bucks 38-23 in the final quarter.
“It’s kind of hard to think we lost to Phoenix twice,” Antetokounmpo said. “But they played better than us.”
Elsewhere, DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for 46 points as the resurgent San Antonio Spurs won their 13th straight game at home against Denver by holding on for a 104-103 win
DeRozan finished with 24 points and Aldridge scored 22 as the Spurs withstood a torrid comeback by the Nuggets who were down 21 points at one stage and scored the final nine points of the contest.
“It almost seems like we’ve just been able to flip a switch, which isn’t the easiest thing to do,” Spurs guard Patty Mills said, “It’s been our defence that has won it for us.”
Jamal Murray tallied 25 points to lead the Nuggets, who also missed three shots in the final 16 seconds of the fourth.
The Spurs have now defeated two of the top three teams in the Western Conference in back-to-back games after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder two nights ago.
Denver dropped to two games behind two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors for the top record in the West.
Rudy Gay finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, guard Derrick White had 11 points and nine assists for the Spurs, who won despite being held scoreless over the final 2 1/2 minutes.
San Antonio have now won three straight and two of three games against Denver this season.
Nuggets guard Murray missed a three-point attempt with 16.2 second left and Gary Harris failed on another shot from beyond the arc from the left corner as the buzzer sounded.
The Spurs are now one half game behind the Los Angeles Clippers who cruised to a 113-105 win over the fading Los Angeles Lakers.
Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points, Lou Williams added 21 for the Clippers. Patrick Beverley was given the unenviable task of guarding superstar LeBron James and did a superb job of shutting him down.
– Lakers hopes fading –
“I said we were the best team in LA. A lot of people didn’t believe me, it’s fine,” Beverley said.
James scored 27 points and Rajon Rondo had his 32nd career triple-double with 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for the Lakers who dropped to 30-34.
The Lakers are 4-8 in games James has played since returning from a 17-game absence because of a groin injury.
Monday’s loss was the Lakers fifth in the last six, leaving them 5 1/2 games behind eighth place San Antonio with their playoff hopes quickly slipping away.
The Lakers have 18 games left, the Spurs 17 and the Clippers 16.
“This was a game we needed and we didn’t take care of business,” said James.
Said Lakers coach Luke Walton, “We are still not mathematically out of it.”