Landale chimes in as Suns peg back Nuggets in playoffs

·3-min read

Boomers centre Jock Landale was handed a key role as his Phoenix Suns beat Denver 121-114, cutting the Nuggets' lead to 2-1 in their NBA Western Conference semi-final series.

Suns coach Monty Williams turned to Landale ahead of his former No.1 draft pick Deandre Ayton to do the defensive job on big Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic down the stretch in Friday night's home game.

And the Australian impressed while finishing the match with six points from 3 from 3 shooting and nine rebounds in his increased 22 minutes of court time off the bench.

Suns big guns Devin Booker (47 points) and Kevin Durant (39 points) led the way as the hosts revitalised their title hopes ahead of game 4 in Phoenix on Sunday.

"They knew what we had to do to win this game," Williams said.

Booker - who came into the game averaging 35.4 points in these playoffs - had another massive offensive effort, shooting 20 of 25 from the field, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range.

"It's all I know, this is all I dreamed of as a kid," Booker said. "I've dedicated a lot of my life, moved away from my family when I was young, to pursue being in these moments."

Durant shot just 12 of 31 from the field, but made 14 of 16 free throws.

Jokic - who finished second in the NBA MVP voting on Tuesday to Philadelphia's Joel Embiid - finished with 30 points, 17 assists and 17 rebounds while Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 32 points and Michael Porter Jr. added 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Suns coach Williams shook up his bench rotation, giving Terrence Ross and TJ Warren more minutes along with Landale. Warren hit a couple crucial buckets in the final minutes to help the Suns keep the lead.

It was a tough night for starting centre Ayton, who finished with just four points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes.

The Suns took a 90-88 lead into the fourth quarter, retaking the lead after the Nuggets erased a 15-point halftime deficit.

Phoenix scored the first nine points of the fourth - including the final two on Durant's fastbreak dunk - to push their advantage to 99-88.

They wouldn't trail in the fourth quarter.

In Philadelphia, the Boston Celtics spoiled Joel Embiid's NBA MVP coronation, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 114-102 to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semi-final series.

Jayson Tatum scored 27 points and Jaylen Brown had 23 for Boston while Embiid had 30 points and 13 rebounds for the 76ers after receiving his MVP trophy in a pre-game ceremony.

In his second game back from injury, Embiid gamely tried to carry the Sixers on one good knee but got almost no help from fellow stars James Harden and Tyrese Maxey.

Harden's 45-point effort in a Game 1 upset in Boston seemed more an aberration than a sign of things to come. Harden followed his 2 of 14 in a Game 2 loss with 3-for-13 shooting for 16 points.

Embiid had scored 53 points against the Celtics in an early-April matchup, but could never get cooking in Game 3.

The Celtics double-teamed Embiid from the jump and he looked gassed by the end of the third.

with AAP