NBA playoffs: 76ers grab series edge with win at Atlanta, Suns slam Nuggets

Philadelphia 76ers seized a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven NBA play-off series over Atlanta Hawks, while Phoenix Suns beat Denver Nuggets 116-102 to claim a 3-0 advantage.

Joel Embiid (C) and Ben Simmons each scored 11 points to highlight a third quarter in which Philadelphia 76ers outscored the Atlanta Hawks by a 34-19 margin.   -  AFP

Joel Embiid collected 27 points, nine rebounds and eight assists to fuel the visiting Philadelphia 76ers to a 127-111 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday in Game 3 of its Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Embiid and teammate Ben Simmons each scored 11 points to highlight a third quarter in which the 76ers outscored the Hawks by a 34-19 margin. Philadelphia coasted from there to seize a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series heading into Game 4 on Monday in Atlanta.

Tobias Harris (22 points) reached the 20-point plateau for the sixth straight game. He went 10-for-16 from the floor, helping the 76ers shoot a blistering 58.2 percent overall and 47.6 percent from 3-point range (10-of-21).

Simmons finished with 18 points and seven assists, and Furkan Korkmaz scored 14 points, 11 of them in the first quarter. Korkmaz saw extended playing time in place of starter Danny Green, who left the game in the first quarter due to a right calf strain and did not return.

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Trae Young scored 16 of his 28 points in the first half for the Hawks, who saw their 13-game home winning streak come to a halt. John Collins added 23 points and Bogdan Bogdanovic had 19. Danilo Gallinari scored 17 points, and Clint Capela grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds.

Ahead by five at halftime, Philadelphia bolted out of the blocks to begin the third quarter, making its first eight shots from the floor to secure an 80-62 lead. Seth Curry drained a 3-pointer and a pair of short jumpers to highlight the 76ers' 19-6 spurt.

Philadelphia pushed its advantage to 22 points in the fourth quarter before Atlanta scored 13 of the next 17 points to cut the deficit to 110-97 with 5:13 to play. Embiid was fouled on a drive and Young was whistled for a technical foul to halt the momentum.

Earlier, Shake Milton sank a mid-range jumper and a 3-pointer to extend Philadelphia's lead to 41-30 with 8:18 remaining in the second quarter. Atlanta trimmed the gap to 61-56 after Young made a driving layup just before halftime.

- Suns defeat Nuggets again for 3-0 series lead -

Devin Booker scored 28 points, Chris Paul had 27 and the visiting Phoenix Suns beat the Denver Nuggets 116-102 to take a 3-0 lead in its Western Conference last-four fixture.

Deandre Ayton had 10 points and 15 rebounds, Jae Crowder scored 14 and Mikal Bridges added 11 for Phoenix, which will aim for a sweep of the best-of-seven series on Sunday in Denver. Paul contributed eight assists.

Both Devin Booker (C) and Chris Paul scored 20-plus points as the Phoenix Suns overcame Denver Nuggets 116-102 on Friday night.   -  AFP

 

The Suns have won six consecutive playoff games and are one win from advancing to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2009-10 -- the last season in which they made the playoffs before this year.

Nikola Jokic had 32 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists for the Nuggets on the night he received his NBA Most Valuable Player award. Monte Morris scored 21, Michael Porter Jr. had 15 and Will Barton added 14 for Denver.

Phoenix jumped out to a 21-8 lead early and was on top 37-27 after the first quarter. The Suns never trailed after being down 3-2. Denver closed within 40-36 in the second quarter, but Torrey Craig hit a 3-pointer and a layup to start a 9-0 Suns run that got the lead back to 13.

It was a 10-point gap late in the second before the Nuggets scored the final six points of the half to trail just 59-55 at intermission. Phoenix opened the third quarter of the basketball outing on an 11-3 run to go ahead 70-58 on a floater by Booker.

Denver tried to cut into the deficit, but two free throws and a pair of pull-up jumpers by Paul kept the lead at 10. Following a short jumper by Jokic that made it 82-74, Cameron Payne and Cameron Johnson hit two 3-pointers to give the Suns an 88-74 lead, and they took a 90-76 edge into the fourth quarter.

Phoenix started the final period by scoring the first six points to lead by 20 with 10:17 left. The Nuggets called a timeout and responded with seven straight points and had several chances to get closer before Crowder hit a 3-pointer. Paul sealed the outcome with a corner 3-pointer with 2:43 left to give Phoenix a 17-point edge.

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