NBA: Phoenix Suns pip Portland with last-gasp free throws

NBA - Devin Booker
Devin Booker (white) of the Phoenix Suns drives the ball against Norman Powell of the Portland Trail Blazers during the second half of the NBA game at Phoenix Suns Arena on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Los Angeles: Devin Booker drained two free throws with 2.4 seconds remaining to lift Phoenix to a 118-117 victory over Portland that kept the Suns in the hunt for the top seed in the NBA Western Conference play-offs.

The narrow victory in a tense duel that saw 25 lead changes along with 18 ties prevented the Trail Blazers from officially locking up their playoff spot.

Veteran point guard Chris Paul paced the Suns with 26 points, one of seven Phoenix players to score in double figures.

Forward Mikal Bridges and reserve Cameron Payne had 21 points apiece and Booker finished with 18 as the Suns withstood a 41-point performance from Blazers guard Damian Lillard that was supplemented by 27 from CJ McCollum.

Lillard’s driving layup with 34.7 seconds remaining put the Trail Blazers up 117-114, but Bridges narrowed the gap with two free throws.

After a Lillard miss from three-point range, Booker handed the Trail Blazers a lifeline as he was whistled for travelling as he tried to spin away from Carmelo Anthony, giving Portland the ball.

The Blazers couldn’t take advantage, however, Robert Covington missing two free throws. The Suns had a last inbounds chance after a timeout and after Portland’s Norman Powell was called for a foul Booker stepped up and made two free-throws to settle it.

Elsewhere, The Miami Heat dominated the Philadelphia 76ers 106-94, denying the Sixers a chance to secure the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

San Antonio advanced when the Sacramento Kings fell 116-110 to the Grizzlies in Memphis. The Milwaukee Bucks moved within one game of the idle Nets for the second seed with a 142-133 victory over the Indiana Pacers.