NBA roundup: Devin Booker messes up the Nuggets after disrespect, Bulls slide continues
Denver, Colorado - Devin Booker put on a show with 49 points as Chris Paul returned from a broken wrist as the Phoenix Suns clinched top spot in the Western Conference with a 140-130 win over the Denver Nuggets.
Booker's 49-point total was a season-high, while 36-year-old Paul returned for the first time since February 20 with 17 points, including 15 in the first half, and 13 assists as the Suns secured their sixth straight win.
The three-time All-Star shot 16-of-25 from the field and also had 10 assists, with Mikal Bridges contributing 22 points from eight-of-nine shooting.
Denver probably regretted making Booker angry by mistakenly displaying a photo of the Clipper's Amir Coffey on the jumbotron when introducing the lineups. "Disrespectful" is how the 25-year-old described the incident, and he clearly had his sights set on some payback.
The win means the Suns have secured the NBA's best record for the third time in franchise history, following on from 1992-93 and 2004-05.
Reigning MVP Nikola Jokić had 28 points with six rebounds and six assists for the Nuggets, who are 43-31 and holding on to sixth spot in the Western Conference.
Around the league
The Memphis Grizzlies again did well without Ja Morant, winning 133-103 over the Indiana Pacers. Desmond Bane scored 30 points with five assists and five rebounds as the Grizzlies improved to 16-2 without Morant.
The Milwaukee Bucks also triumphed without Khris Middleton (wrist) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee). Jrue Holiday starred with 24 points and 10 assists in a 114-102 win over the Washington Wizards.
Pascal Siakam equalled his season-high 35 points as the Toronto Raptors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-104 in a crucial game in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Chicago Bulls slipped to their fifth defeat from their past six games, going down 126-109 to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Bulls are fifth in the east with a 42-31 record, just ahead of the Cavs and Raptors (both 41-32). The Bulls, who were without DeMar DeRozan due to a left groin issue, were dominated 40-24 by the Pels in the fourth quarter, led by Devonte' Graham (30 points including five three-pointers) and Jonas Valanciunas (16 points and 19 rebounds).
Zach LaVine was Chicago's best with 39 points in DeRozan's absence, going 12-of-23 from the field, while Coby White added 23 points off the bench, including five triples.
Cover photo: IMAGO / Agencia EFE