Phoenix Suns Regain League Lead After Win Over LA Clippers; Warriors Lose to Pelicans : NBA : Sports World News

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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns looks on during the first half of a game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on December 31, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo : Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns became the first team in the NBA this season to reach the 30-win mark after they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, 106-89, on Thursday, January 6. Chris Paul tormented his former team, registering a triple-double in the rout. He scored 14 points, grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, and dished out 10 assists in 34 minutes of action.

Paul, Johnson, Smith star for Suns in rout

Four other players scored in double-figures for the Suns, who extended their winning streak to three games. Cameron Johnson led all Suns’ scorers with a career-high 24 points on 9 of 14 shooting from the field, including 4 of 7 from deep. He also had seven rebounds, one assist, one steal, and two blocks in a brilliant all-around performance.

Jalen Smith stepped up big time once again in the absence of Deandre Ayton, JaVale McGee, and Jae Crowder, posting a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Ayton, McGee, and Crowder have all cleared the league’s health and safety protocols, but they were still sidelined for this contest to work their way back into shape.

The performances of Paul, Johnson, and Smith helped the Suns overcome the poor showing by superstar Devin Booker. He struggled offensively against the Clips, scoring 11 points on 5 of 22 shooting from the floor. Booker missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.

This season, the Suns improved to 25-0 when leading after three quarters. They pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Clippers, 31-23. The Clippers, without Luke Kennard, Xavier Moon, Ivica Zubac because of COVID-19, dropped to eighth place in the Western Conference standings with a 19-20 slate.

Related Article: Injury Bug Strikes Jimmy Butler Again as Miami Heat Star Suffers Ankle Sprain in Loss to Warriors 

Undermanned Warriors lose ground to Suns

The Golden State Warriors also had an opportunity to reach the 30-win plateau, but the New Orleans Pelicans thwarted them. The Pels recorded a 101-96 victory over the Warriors, who were without leading scorer Steph Curry and leading rebounder Draymond Green. Curry sat out the contest because of a quad contusion while Green was nursing a sore hip.

The Warriors came close to recording a shock win as they went on a 7-0 run late in the fourth quarter to slice New Orleans’ lead to three points with 51.5 seconds left. The Pelicans were solid down the stretch, though, knocking down seven of their eight free throw attempts to seal the win.

Brandon Ingram starred for New Orleans, scoring a game-high 32 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. In this contest, he shot 12 of 20 from the field to end his shooting slump. In his previous two games, Ingram had missed 28 of his 36 field-goal attempts.

The Warriors dropped to second place in the Western standings with the loss. The Warriors, who hold a 29-9 record, trail the Suns by one game for the best record in the NBA.

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