Tue, 21 Mar 2023

WASHINGTON, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks clinched a playoff spot by beating the Phoenix Suns 116-104, while Anthony Davis had 35 points and 17 rebounds in the Los Angeles Lakers' 123-108 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

The Bucks also become the first team to win 50 games this season and the first to secure a postseason berth. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 36 points, and Brook Lopez added 21.

The Suns trailed by nine points at halftime, but cut the deficit to 85-84 heading to the fourth quarter after Devin Booker hit a mid-range jumper at the buzzer.

Cameron Payne hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Suns up 90-87 for their first lead of the second half. The game stayed tight for the next few minutes but the Bucks took the lead for good when Pat Connaughton hit a corner 3-pointer for a 100-97 advantage with 6:32 remaining. The Bucks closed the game on a 24-9 run.

Booker led the Suns with 30 points. Deandre Ayton had 16 points and eight rebounds.

Malik Beasley hit seven 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 24 points for the Lakers. D'Angelo Russell added 17 points to help Los Angeles move one game ahead of New Orleans in the Western Conference standings as both sides try to remain in contention for a spot in the playoffs.

Brandon Ingram returned to the Pelicans' lineup after missing two games with a right ankle injury, but his 22 points were not enough for New Orleans. Herbert Jones and Trey Murphy III each scored 20 for the Pelicans, who trailed 75-40 at halftime.

The Pelicans trimmed their deficit to 13 when Ingram's pull-up jumper made it 107-94 with five minutes to play, but the Lakers pushed their advantage back to 18 with a 7-2 run.

Also on Tuesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Charlotte Hornets 120-104, the Washington Wizards snapped their three-game losing streak with a 117-97 victory over the Detroit Pistons, the Toronto Raptors used a franchise-record 49-point first quarter to hand the Denver Nuggets their season-high fourth straight loss 125-110, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Brooklyn Nets 121-107, the San Antonio Spurs made a franchise-high 22 3-pointers in a 132-114 win over the Orlando Magic, and the New York Knicks sailed past the Portland Trail Blazers 123-107.

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