Booker scores 58 as Suns beat Pelicans; Thunder top Grizzlies

LOS ANGELES (AFP) -- Devin Booker scored 58 points to propel the Phoenix Suns to a come-from-behind 118-114 victory over New Orleans on Saturday, Dec. 17, his second 50-point performance of the NBA season.

Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns attempts a shot over Trey Murphy III of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on December 17, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (AFP)

Booker scored 36 points in the second half as the Suns, who trailed by as many as 24 in the third quarter, sliced the deficit to 89-84 heading into the final frame.

They took a 106-105 lead on Chris Paul's three pointer with 5:24 to play. The Pelicans would tie it up one more time before Bismack Biyombo's layup put Phoenix ahead for good with 4:11 remaining.

With his second 50-point game of the season Booker, 26, became the sixth-youngest player to score 12,000 points.

Paul scored 18 points and Mykal Bridges added 15 for the Suns.

Zion Williamson scored 30 to lead the Pelicans, who fell to 18-11 -- one game behind Western Conference leaders Memphis whose whose seven-game winning streak ended with a 115-109 loss to the Thunder in Oklahoma City.

The Grizzlies were down 61-40 when star Ja Morant was ejected in the waning seconds of the first half after he received a second technical foul apparently for criticizing the officiating while talking to a fan.

Morant, who had picked up his first technical seconds earlier complaining about a call, finished with six points and five rebounds.

Dillon Brooks drained six three-pointers on the way to 32 points for Memphis, but Oklahoma City, without offensive standouts Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, dominated.

Lu Dort scored 24 points with seven rebounds and four assists to lead the Thunder and Isaiah Joe added 23 points as Oklahoma City snapped a five-game skid.

In Cleveland, Jarrett Allen’s dunk with 2:01 left in overtime gave the Cavaliers a 100-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavs came up empty on three ensuing possessions and the Cavs notched their fifth win in five overtime games this season.

Donovan Mitchell led Cleveland with 25 points and came up with a steal in the final minute of overtime.

Dallas' Kemba Walker scored 32 points but missed a jump shot with 12.7 seconds left in OT and Christian Wood was off target as time expired.

Miami win in Mexico

The Miami Heat pounced late to beat the San Antonio Spurs 111-101 in Mexico City, where commissioner Adam Silver discussed the prospect of NBA expansion south of the border.

A sellout crowd of 20,160 turned out at Mexico City Arena, where the Spurs seized the initiative with a 19-0 first-quarter run.

The young Spurs team led by three at halftime and were up by four going into the final period, but Miami's experience and tough defense paid off in a 31-17 fourth quarter advantage that delivered the victory.

Jimmy Butler scored 26 points and grabbed five rebounds, Bam Adebayo added 22 points and 13 rebounds and Tyler Herro added 21 points for Miami, who won their fourth straight.

Before the game Silver reiterated his belief that the NBA could one day expand into Mexico.

"When you look at the success we've had in Canada to the north, beginning in the early '90s, it makes sense to me that we would expand to the south, as well," Silver said. "I don't have a specific timeline right now in terms of expansion, but there's no doubt we will be looking seriously at Mexico City over time."

In Los Angeles, Kawhi Leonard shook off a slow start to score a season-high 31 points and lead the Clippers to a 102-93 victory over the Washington Wizards.

Leonard missed all four of his shots in the first quarter, but found his groove to carry the Clippers who were without injured Paul George, Ivica Zubac, Reggie Jackson and Norman Powell.

Portland star Damian Lillard scored 25 points and handed out 10 assists in the Trail Blazers' 107-95 victory over the Rockets in Houston.

But it was teammate Anfernee Simons who jump-started the Blazers' offense, scoring 14 of his 32 points in the first quarter.

In Milwaukee, the Bucks had little trouble in a 123-97 victory over the Utah Jazz, despite the absence of two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo who was nursing a sore left knee.