Devin Booker put on a show as the Phoenix Suns eliminated LeBron James and NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers from the playoffs en route to the Western Conference semi-finals. (More Sports News)
The sun set on the Lakers' season and their title defence in the opening round after Booker's playoff career-high 47 points and 11 rebounds guided Phoenix to a 113-100 win in Game 6 on Thursday.
Booker's monster double-double – which included eight three-pointers – sealed a 4-2 series victory for the second-seeded Suns in the Western Conference as they moved through to the semi-finals.
Suns All-Star Booker became the first Phoenix player with a 40/10 playoff game since Amar'e Stoudemire in 2010, though he is the first to do it with five-plus threes.
4th quarter next on TNT! pic.twitter.com/3GlQtiD3dA— NBA (@NBA) June 4, 2021
The Lakers welcomed the Suns to Staples Center for the must-win showdown in Los Angeles, where star Anthony Davis had been cleared to return from a groin injury.
According to Stats Perform, the Lakers were 8-2 in home games when facing playoff elimination since 2000 but their hopes were dealt a blow when Davis' comeback lasted just five minutes.
The Suns – who were 8-1 in potential series-clinching games since 2000, with their only loss coming against the Clippers in Game 6 in 2006 – blew away the Lakers with a 36-14 opening quarter on the road.
Phoenix carried a 60-41 advantage into half-time and while James tried to spark a Lakers rally with 29 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two blocks, it was not enough.
A 14-point comeback in the second half to close out the series on the road?June 4, 2021
A four-time NBA champion and MVP, it is the first time James has been eliminated in the opening round of the postseason in his illustrious 15-year playoff career.
Next up for the Suns are the Denver Nuggets, who claimed their series 4-2 following a 126-115 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers.
MVP favourite Nikola Jokic fuelled the third-seeded Nuggets with 36 points in Portland, where Michael Porter Jr. had 22 of his 26 points in the opening quarter.
The Nuggets reached the Western Conference semis for the third consecutive season, while Damian Lillard put up 28 points and 13 assists for the Trail Blazers – who led by 14 points in the third quarter but could not hold on.
Clippers at Mavericks
Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks can secure a semi-final date with the top-ranked Utah Jazz in the Western Conference by beating the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. The Mavericks lead the series 3-2.