Harden's 3 helps 76ers tie Celtics; Booker, Suns top Nuggets
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — James Harden hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 18 seconds left in overtime and scored 42 points to help the Philadelphia 76ers stave off a wild Boston Celtics comeback in a 116-115 victory on Sunday that evened their playoff series at 2-2.
Marcus Smart’s potential winner was a tick too late and the Celtics now head home for Tuesday’s Game 5. The 76ers are guaranteed to return home for Game 6 on Thursday.
The Sixers were on the brink of defeat numerous times over the final 17 minutes, none more than when Joel Embiid crashed into Smart on a driving, one-handed bank shot with 1:49 left but was whistled for an offensive foul. The play was reviewed and the call stood. Boston kept its 112-111 lead with 1:49 left in OT.
Embiid, the NBA MVP, kept his composure and eventually got to the line to sink two free throws with 59 seconds left and the season in the balance.
Embiid had 34 points and 13 rebounds. Harden added nine assists and eight rebounds.
Jayson Tatum struggled to score early but finished with 24 points, 18 rebounds, six assists and four blocks. Jaylen Brown scored 23 points and Smart had 21.
SUNS 129, NUGGETS 124
PHOENIX (AP) — Devin Booker had 36 points and 12 assists, Kevin Durant also scored 36 points and Phoenix beat Denver to even their Western Conference semifinal playoff series at two games apiece.
Backup guard Landry Shamet made four crucial 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to keep the Suns ahead. Denver lost despite a huge game from MVP runner-up Nikola Jokic, who poured in 53 points on 20-of-30 shooting.
Jokic used his physical play to knock down several big buckets, even ripping the ball away from Suns owner Mat Ishbia at one point after the ball went out of bounds, which earned the Nuggets All-Star a technical foul.
The series returns to Denver for Game 5 on Tuesday.
The Suns took a 98-92 lead into the fourth quarter after a scoring flurry from Booker, who had 17 points in the third. Phoenix wouldn’t trail in the fourth, though Denver didn’t go quietly.
Booker — averaging 36 points on 60% shooting in these playoffs — was hot once again, shooting 14 of 18 from the field, including 3 of 4 on 3-pointers. Shamet finished with 19 points, shooting 5 of 8 on 3s.
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The Associated Press