PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) - It's been a long time coming for the Phoenix Suns. For the first time in more than a decade, the franchise is going to the playoffs. The Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-101 on Wednesday night in front of a hometown crowd.
Chris Paul heard chants of MVP as he scored 28 points on 10-15 points and added 10 assists. Devin Booker added 21 despite only making one three-pointer.
The Suns hadn't made the playoffs since the 2009-2010 season. It was the second-longest active playoff drought in the NBA.
The Suns finally figured out a way to beat the Clippers, who won the first two games of the season series. Phoenix didn't trail the entire game but needed a fourth-quarter push to turn back a Los Angeles rally. The Suns took an 86-80 lead into the final quarter. The Clippers pulled within 93-92 midway though the fourth but Paul scored three consecutive tough baskets to give Phoenix some space.
The Suns improved to 44-18 while the Clippers fell to 43-21. The teams are currently ranked No. 2 and 3, respectively, in the Western Conference standings.
CLOSE TO NORMAL
The Suns are able to have about 5,500 fans these days at Phoenix Suns Arena, slowly increasing capacity as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.
It was a festive atmosphere for Wednesday's game that felt almost pre-pandemic, with shirtless fans with S-U-N-S dancing in the stands and huge cheers when Paul hit his crucial buckets in the fourth.
The Suns haven't been in the playoffs since 2010, when Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire made the team a huge draw in the desert.