Booker inspires Suns to win over Pelicans

Devin Booker scored 52 points as the Phoenix Suns beat the New Orleans Pelicans 124-111 to boost their chances of qualifying for the NBA playoffs.

Kevin Durant added 20 points and Jusuf Nurkic 19 as all five Phoenix starters finished with double figures.

Phoenix are now just one game behind sixth-placed New Orleans, who occupy the final automatic playoff spot in the Western Conference.

As things stand, Phoenix will enter the play-in tournament.

The tournament determines the four remaining places in the post-season, with two teams progressing from each conference.

Suns’ win also means the third-placed Minnesota Timberwolves are guaranteed a place in the playoffs.

Elsewhere, Jayson Tatum and Sam Hauser scored 25 points as the Boston Celtics, who have already secured top spot in the Eastern Conference, beat the Charlotte Hornets 118-104.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 20 points, Derrick White 19 and Al Horford 15 for Boston, who improved to 59-16.

The Orlando Magic held off a late rally from the Portland Trail Blazers to win 104-103 and stay in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Deandre Ayton had a 12-foot jumper fall just short as the buzzer sounded that would have won the game for Western Conference strugglers Portland, who have now lost 10 straight games.

The Indiana Pacers remain on course for an automatic playoff spot in the East after beating the Brooklyn Nets 133-111.

Tyrese Haliburton top-scored with 27 points and Jalen Smith added 17 off the bench as Indiana remains in sixth, two wins ahead of seventh-placed Miami Heat.

Brooklyn stays 11th and are all but eliminated from playoff contention.

Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 20 points as 10th-placed Atlanta Hawks won 113-101 at ninth-placed Chicago Bulls, with both teams on course for a place in the play-in tournament in the East.

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