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Suns slip past Clippers in defensive slugfest

Suns slip past Clippers in defensive slugfest

LOS ANGELES — It may not be “Suns in four,” but “Suns in five” is still in play.

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 Suns escaped with an 84-80 victory over the Clippers on Saturday night to take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.

The Suns, and their viral ”Suns in four” rallying cry born from a fan brawl during their series win against the Nuggets, can advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993 with a victory Monday night in Phoenix.

“We’re not looking too far ahead,” Booker said.

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 never take the lead in front of a sellout crowd that hung on every agonizing miss.

Devin Booker goes up for a layup during the Suns' 84-80 Game 4 victory over the Clippers.
Devin Booker goes up for a layup during the Suns’ 84-80 Game 4 victory over the Clippers.
NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles shot 32 percent (27 of 83) for the game; Phoenix was barely better at 36 percent (31 of 86). The Clippers made five 3-pointers in the game; the Suns hit four.

“That was a slugfest,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “It wasn’t Offense 101, for sure.”

Deandre Ayton added 19 points and a career playoff-high 22 rebounds, and Paul had 18 points and seven assists.

“It was a crazy, emotional game,” Paul said.

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.

The Clippers successfully challenged a call in the final minute that led to Booker’s sixth foul. Terance Mann scored and they trailed 79-76.

The final 13 seconds turned into a free-throw shooting contest. Paul made 5 of 6. The Clippers were 4 of 8, deliberately missing three of them to try to score. But it didn’t work.

“It was tough because we fought all the way to get it to a one-point game, and we had looks that we normally make all season and they weren’t falling,” Mann said. “The game could have easily went a whole different way if we were hitting those shots.”

With injured Kawhi Leonard again watching from a suite, the Clippers outscored the Suns 30-19 in the third, only to get outscored 15-14 in the fourth.

The Clippers shot 13 of 44 in the first half. None of them could get it going: George and Jackson were 3 of 11 and Marcus Morris was 1 of 6.

Phoenix raced to leads of 14-2 and 20-9 in the first quarter. The Clippers made just one of their first seven shots — a dunk by Zubac. Seven of George’s 11 points in the half came on a 3-pointer and four free throws.

Booker picked up three fouls in the first half, two of them within minutes of each other in the second quarter. At that point, the Suns were up by 16.

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Janice Tilson

Janice has been phenomenal in the success of Stock Market Pioneer. She is the super dedicated types, always glued to her computer. She talks less, but when it comes to work, she is behind none. She is a tech geek and contributes to the technology section of Stock Market Pioneer.

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