Suns win in return to playoffs, beating Lakers 99-90

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PHOENIX (AP) — All-Star guard Chris Paul was grimacing in pain early in the fourth quarter, playing essentially with one shoulder. Cameron Payne had just been ejected. Players had to be separated and emotions were heated.

Phoenix coach Monty Williams had warned his young Suns there would be moments like this in the NBA playoffs, especially against the defending champion Los Angels Lakers.

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It’s safe to say they passed the first test.

Devin Booker scored 34 points, Deandre Ayton had 21 points and 16 rebounds and the Suns won their first playoff game in 11 years, beating the Lakers 99-90 on Sunday. For Booker, his long awaited appearance in the postseason lived up to the hype.

“The intensity’s different, the physicality is different,” Booker said. “And it’s only one game.”

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It was the first playoff appearance for several Suns players, including Booker, Ayton and Mikal Bridges, but they didn’t look like postseason rookies against LeBron James and the Lakers. They helped Phoenix offset a tough game for Paul, who didn’t look healthy after a right shoulder injury in the second quarter.

The Suns led 86-70 early in the fourth, but the Lakers quickly cut it to 86-77 with 9:02 left.

That’s about the time things got a little rowdy. L.A.’s Alex Caruso and Payne got into an altercation near the sideline after Payne knocked Caruso to the ground. L.A.’s Montrezl Harrell jumped into the fray and both teams had to be separated. Caruso and Harrell were each given a technical foul, and Payne was given two technicals and ejected.

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