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Watch: Booker brilliance as Suns sink Clippers, Celtics dominant

Devin Booker led a second-half rally as the Phoenix Suns came from behind to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 123-109 and level their Western Conference playoff series 1-1 on Tuesday.

Booker scored 18 points in the third quarter before finishing with a 38-point haul to complete a battling comeback by Phoenix, who had trailed by 13 in the second quarter against the Kawhi Leonard-inspired Clippers.

The Clippers stunned Phoenix at home in game one on Sunday and appeared to be well on their way to taking a commanding 2-0 series lead after surging into a 49-36 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the second quarter.

But Kevin Durant, veteran Chris Paul and Booker sparked into life for Phoenix in the closing minutes of the first half to erase the Clippers’ lead, and Booker drained a 27-foot three-pointer on the stroke of half-time to make it a tie game at 59-59 at the break.

Booker then took over with a flurry of scoring in the third quarter to fire Phoenix into a 92-87 lead heading into the final quarter.

Durant finished with 25 points while Paul chipped in with 16 to help see Phoenix home as the series heads to Los Angeles for game three on Thursday.

“We wanted to protect home court in game two, we got one, and now we’re off to LA,” Booker said afterwards.

“It’s the playoffs, it’s win at all costs — doesn’t matter what happened these past two games. You’ve got to move on to the next one — it’s a new assignment for us.”

Leonard led the scoring for the Clippers with 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while Russell Westbrook had 28 points.

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue paid tribute to the performance of Suns trio Booker, Durant and Paul.

“In that second half they really took over,” said Lue, who insisted the Clippers were still confident of a series victory.

“I feel good where we’re at,” Lue said. “Our guys are going to keep competing, keep scrapping. One hundred percent of the battle is believing. And we believe we can win this series.”

In other playoff action, Jayson Tatum starred as the Boston Celtics took a 2-0 series lead over the Atlanta Hawks while Darius Garland delivered a 32-point gem in Cleveland’s series-leveling rout of the New York Knicks. 

‘Another level’

Tatum finished with 29 points as the second-seeded Celtics overcame a slow start to dominate the seventh-seeded Hawks for a 119-106 victory at Boston’s TD Garden.

“We want to be peaking at this time of year,” Tatum said. “Everybody’s healthy, playing the right way, playing really well — but we’ve got another level we can go to hopefully.”

Atlanta jumped out to a 22-11 lead in the first quarter before Boston’s offense clicked to give the Celtics a 28-25 lead heading into the second quarter.

Once in front, the Celtics never relinquished the advantage, opening up a 61-49 half-time lead and extending that to 20 points midway through the third quarter as Boston’s defense shut down Atlanta’s scoring.

Atlanta rallied to get within eight points of the Celtics in the fourth quarter, but Boston never looked like squandering their lead down the stretch and pulled away convincingly to ensure they will take a 2-0 advantage into game three in Atlanta on Friday.

Tatum finished with 29 points including five three-pointers, while Derrick White provided offensive support with 26 points and Jaylen Brown added 18 points.

Dejounte Murray led Atlanta’s scorers with 29 points while Trae Young finished with 24.

“They won, we lost — we’ve just got to be better,” Atlanta playmaker Young said.

Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers roared back into their best-of-seven series with the Knicks to score a 107-90 win. 

Beaten 101-97 in game one on Saturday, the Cavaliers bounced back in spectacular fashion to score a blowout victory.

Cleveland opened up a 25-22 first-quarter lead and never looked back, outscoring Cleveland 34-17 in the second quarter to take a decisive grip on the contest.

New York failed to get within 15 points of the Cavs throughout the second half, as Cleveland powered on to lead by as many as 29 midway through the fourth quarter.

Cleveland point guard Garland produced a sparkling display with 32 points — 26 of them in a devastating first-half scoring burst. 

Caris LeVert added 24 off the bench while Donovan Mitchell added 17 points with 13 assists.

The Knicks’ offense failed to fire, with the team’s 90-point total their second-lowest tally of the season.

Julius Randle finished with 22 points while Jalen Brunson added 20. 

Game three of the series takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York on Friday.

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