SALT LAKE CITY/ CHICAGO – Kevin Durant scored 38 points and Devin Booker had 24 points and a career-high 15 assists to boost the Phoenix Suns to a 131-128 win over the Utah Jazz in an In-Season Tournament game.
Franz Wagner scored 21 points; Jonathan Isaac added 18 and the Orlando Magic beat the Chicago Bulls 103-97 in an NBA In-Season Tournament game.
Durant´s 3-pointer lifted the Suns to a 124-115 lead before the Jazz rallied to get within one point in the final minute. Durant struck again with his sixth 3 with 18 seconds left. “I had missed one to start the fourth quarter that looked good coming off my hand. So I just kept it in the back of my mind: I wanted to get to that shot again,” Durant said according to AP.
Durant also collected nine rebounds and nine assists. He has scored at least 25 points in 11 straight games for the longest active streak in the NBA.
“He hit a bomb and won the game. It was a big-time shot by a big-time player but he was really terrific the whole night,” Phoenix coach Frank Vogel said.
Booker is “one of the best shooting guards in the league and now he´s a point guard – he´s playing like it – while also scoring the ball as well and leading us with 15 assists and one turnover,” Vogel said.
Even though the game was tight down the stretch, Durant sidled up to Booker and asked him if he hit his career high in assists. Booker smiled and nodded.
“It was just so effortless. He wasn´t hunting assists. He was just playing in the flow of the game. He played like a perfect point guard tonight,” Durant said.
Jordan Clarkson scored a season-high 37 points for Utah. He has four straight games with 26 or more points, the longest such streak of his career.
Lauri Markkanen scored 21 points for Jazz, and John Collins had 15 points and 14 rebounds.
“It hurts to lose the game especially when you give yourself an opportunity to win,” Markkanen said.
Elsewhere, James Harden hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer while getting fouled with six seconds to play, sending the Los Angeles Clippers to their first victory since his arrival with a 106-100 win over the Houston Rockets in the NBA In-Season Tournament.
Harden dramatically drew the foul from Jae’Sean Tate and drilled his vintage 26-footer from atop the key before completing the four-point play to secure the win. The Clippers had lost six games in a row, including their first five since acquiring Harden from Philadelphia.
“We’ve still got a long way to go, but obviously it felt good to get a win,” Harden said. “You can’t take those for granted. But like I continue to say, it’s a building process, and I can see a lot of (areas for) improvement on both sides of the ball to correct and get used to.”
Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic held the Chicago Bulls to 33 points in the first half once again and watched their lead slip away after going up by 19. Just as they did two nights earlier, they came away with the win. And Gary Harris could laugh after this one.
Franz Wagner scored 21 points; Jonathan Isaac added 18 and the Magic beat the Bulls 103-97 in an NBA In-Season Tournament game. “It´s just funny how it happens because it´s the same situation as the last game,” Harris said.
“We said you´re going to keep getting the same test until you pass it. It wasn´t technically how we wanted it to go. But just for us to come together and for them to take the lead and for us to regain our composure and go out there and steal another one here in Chicago, it was great.”
The way this one unfolded bore a striking resemblance to Wednesday’s game in Chicago. Orlando held Chicago to 33 points in the first half and blew a 19-point lead, only to come away with a 96-94 win.
This time, Wagner drove for a go-ahead three-point play in the final minute. Isaac hit two free throws to make it a four-point game with 12 seconds left, sending the Bulls to their seventh loss in nine games.