LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Chris Paul overcame an injured shoulder and Jae Crowder busted out of a playoff slump on Sunday (May 30) as the Phoenix Suns took a 100-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, who lost Anthony Davis to another injury.
Paul had 18 points and nine assists while Crowder delivered 17 points as half a dozen players finished in double figures for the Suns, who clawed their way level at 2-2 in the Western Conference best-of-seven playoff series against the reigning NBA champions.
Paul had to plead with the coaching staff to get into the game but the move paid off as Paul had his best game of the first-round series after injuring his shoulder in game one.
Paul said Suns coach Monty Williams was going to sit him but Paul said he petitioned, “Give me a couple of minutes, see what I can do.”
Crowder also had his best game so far, scoring 17 points, the same number he scored in games two and three combined. Crowder grabbed seven rebounds in front of a pandemic-limited crowd of 8,000 at the Staples Center.
Heading into game four, Crowder had made just 7-of-27 shots and was 2-of-20 from three-point range.
Devin Booker scored 17 points, Deandre Ayton finished with 14 points and a team high 17 rebounds, Cameron Payne netted 13 and Mikal Bridges tallied 11 for the Suns, who can take their first lead of the series with a win in game five on Tuesday.
Two-time all-star Booker was also able to keep his emotions in check after being tossed out of game three for delivering a stiff two-handed shove to the Lakers’ Dennis Schroder late in the fourth quarter.
LeBron James scored a team-high 25 points and had 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who had to play half the game without eight time NBA All-Star Davis.
Davis fell hard and went to the locker room with an apparent groin injury. Davis finished with just six points after leading Los Angeles in scoring in game three with 34.
Trae Young scored 27 points to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 113-96 victory over visiting New York on Sunday, pushing the Knicks to the brink of elimination.
John Collins added 22 points while Italy’s Danilo Gallinari scored 21 off the bench and Clint Capella added 10 points and 15 rebounds for the Hawks.
Atlanta seized a 3-1 edge in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series with game five set for Wednesday in New York.
Julius Randle led the Knicks with 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists while R.J. Barrett added 21 points for New York.
Later NBA playoff games Sunday had Brooklyn at Boston and the Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas.