Suns beat Clippers, clinch first playoff spot in 11 years

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Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) passes as Los Angeles Clippers guard Reggie Jackson (1) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX – Devin Booker was in middle school and starting center Deandre Ayton was 11 years old when the Phoenix Suns were last in the playoffs.

As for point guard Chris Paul? He was an NBA star in those days, just like he was on Wednesday night.

Paul scored 28 points, Booker added 21 and the Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-101 to secure a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2010.

“We are not satisfied, we’re not settling,” second-year Suns coach Monty Williams said. “We feel like we’re just scratching the surface.”

Williams has been the architect of a remarkable turnaround in Arizona. The Suns had a 19-63 record just two seasons ago and had languished near the bottom of the West for years. Now they're a trendy pick to push deep into the summer's playoffs.

“Our players have worked their tails off, they’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do,” Williams said. “I’m just happy for them.”

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.