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Booker, Ayton lead Suns past Lakers in playoff debuts

Devin Booker scored 34 points, Deandre Ayton had 21 points and 16 rebounds and the Phoenix Suns won their first playoff game in 11 years, beating the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers 99-90 on Sunday.

It was the first playoff game 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 veteran All-Star point guard Chris 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.

Los Angeles Lakers forwards LeBron James (23) and Anthony Davis (3) pause on the court during the second half of Game 1 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoRoss D. Franklin)

That’s about the time things got a little rowdy. L.A.‘s Alex Caruso and Phoenix’s Cameron 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.

But Booker kept making shots and Ayton was a force on the glass, finishing with eight offense rebounds and shooting 10 of 11 from the field. The Lakers never got within striking distance in the final minutes.

James finished with 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Anthony Davis shot just 5 of 16 from the field and had 13 points. The Lakers shot 7 of 26 (27%) from 3-point range.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) blocks the shot of Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder, left, during the first half of Game 1 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoRoss D. Franklin)

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.

76ERS 125, WIZARDS 118

Tobias Harris scored 37 points, Joel Embiid had 30 and Philadelphia beat Washington in Game 1.

Harris scored 28 points in the first half, making a case Philly has — with All-Stars Embiid and Ben Simmons — three big stars that could rival the superstar trio of Kevin Durant-James Harden-Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn.

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid (21) reacts after being fouled during the first half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Washington Wizards, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP PhotoMatt Slocum)

Bradley Beal scored 33 points for Washington. Russell Westbrook had 16.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Philadelphia.