Suns beat Lakers in NBA battle of the west

Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton each scored 26 points, Chris Paul had a triple-double (11 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds) and the Phoenix Suns enjoyed a 111-94 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

Paul became the sixth player in NBA history with 10,000 assists when he threw an alley-oop pass to Ayton for a dunk in the third quarter.

The Suns’ 17th victory from their last 21 games moved them within two games of the Western Conference leaders, the Utah Jazz, and one game ahead of the Lakers (28-13).

The defending NBA champions were playing without 17-time All-Star LeBron James due to an ankle sprain for just the second time this season and fell to 0-2 in his absence.

“It is going to take a little time as we adjust (without James), figure out where the shots are coming from and what our new identity is going to look like,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

At Madison Square Garden, Tobias Harris made two free throws with 5.3 seconds left in overtime and the Philadelphia 76ers saw off the New York Knicks 101-100.

Australia’s Ben Simmons returned from a sore knee and had 16 points while Dwight Howard (13), Furkan Korkmaz (12) and Danny Green (11 points) also got into double-digits.

The Eastern Conference-leading Sixers improved to 30-13 with their eighth win in 10 games.

Just one game behind Philadelphia are Brooklyn after Kyrie Irving scored 28 points and James Harden 26 to lead the Nets past the Washington Wizards 113-106.

In Boston, Jaylen Brown hit a career-high 10 three-pointers (34 points) as the Celtics beat the Orlando Magic 112-96.

Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson each scored 30 points and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Denver Nuggets 113-108.

Nikola Jokic had 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his 11 triple-double of the season and 52nd overall.

The Houston Rockets lost their team-record 20th straight game, the equal ninth-worst skid in NBA history, falling 114-112 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Elsewhere – Luka Doncic scored 37 points in Dallas’ easy 132-92 victory over Portland, Indiana beat Miami 109-106 after overtime, Chicago ran out 100-86 victors in Detroit, and Cleveland were 116-105 winners over Toronto – handing the Raptors their eighth straight loss.

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