Devin “Colder than Ice Cold” Booker Stuns Mavericks

Jan 5, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) sets the play against Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (23) during the first quarter at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 5, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) sets the play against Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (23) during the first quarter at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

With moments left in the game, Steve Albert, the Suns’ television analyst, commented that Devin Booker was a “Dallas Mavericks killer.” Then Booker took this shot:

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Already averaging 30.5 points this season against the Mavericks, including a career-high 39 against them in Mexico City, Devin Booker realized the opportunity to win this game late and in crunch time took it upon himself to do so:

With 2:22 remaining, Booker missed a jump shot that would have given the Suns a one point lead. Following a Devin Harris three-pointer and a Suns timeout, Booker nailed a jumper pulling the Suns to within two (his 29th and 30th points of the game).

Twenty-four seconds later, Booker tied it. (32 points)

After two Harrison Barnes free throws, with 46.4 seconds remaining, Book hit another shot. (34 points)

Tied again.

Finally, after a distracting inadvertent whistle, Booker was given the ball once more and with complete control to win the game or send it to overtime, and Wesley Matthews draped on him like frosting on a cake, Booker focused his intention on the hoop, drove, created space with a spin, pulled up, and nailed the game winner.

Per Tom Chambers in the television postgame wrapup, the Suns had had three game winners in the last 15 years prior to this season:

Tonight’s matchup was reminiscent of those that the Suns and Mavs used to enjoy during both teams’ most recent heyday of dominance of the Western Conference: back and forth, shot for shot, often the outcome being totally undecided until the last second.

Neither team took a lead greater than seven points – the Mavericks led by seven briefly, late in the second quarter – making for a very entertaining, exciting, and intense game from start to finish.

While the Mavericks are actually fighting for a chance at a playoff spot (a Dallas win would have pulled them to within a game and a half of the Denver Nuggets for 8th place in the West) for Suns fans, many have been hoping that Phoenix would succumb to a late-season collapse, easily solidifying themselves with the third-worst record in the league, if not the second, and a near guaranteed top-3 lottery pick.

However, aside from the debacle against the Lakers two nights ago, since the All-Star break the Suns have shown exceptional fight and competitiveness, a sign of true growth for a young team that is definitely on the rise. Wins like tonight might push the Suns out of the top-3 in the lottery – or at least lessen their odds – but watching the Suns play well against a playoff competitor again (especially this late in the season when the team could have given up on competing and looked forward to their summer off) and finish another game with clutch, buzzer-beating shot from 20-year old Devin Booker, does offer fans lots of hope for the future.

For the Suns, Devin Booker finished with a game-high 36 points on 12-20 shooting and a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line. The 36 points raised his average against the Mavs this season to 32.3 points. Dallas is the only team that Booker averages at least 30 points against. This was Booker’s tenth game scoring 30 or more points this season. Six of his first nine came on back-to-back games so keep an eye out for 30 again against Portland.

T.J. Warren nearly pulled of his third consecutive double-double scoring 16 points and grabbing 8 boards. Warren is shooting a blazing 62.0% in his last ten games, scoring in double-digits in each of them. (The comparisons to Cedric Ceballos become more real by the day).

It is hard to pinpoint exactly what plagued Eric Bledsoe tonight, but he had another poor shooting game finishing 4-12 for only 12 points while grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing out only 1 assist, his lowest assist total on the season.

Alex Len missed the game in Dallas due to a right hip injury forcing a shakeup in the starting lineup. The presumption had been that Alan Williams would be given a starters spot and minutes, although this was not the case. Instead Derrick Jones Jr. was moved to the starting lineup, and Marquese Chriss started the game at center.

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Derrick Jones grabbed 7 rebounds in 26:01 setting career-highs in each category (Jones’ prior career-high in rebounds had been 2, set and tied on four occasions, most recently against the Washington Wizards). He scored only 2 points, a jumper that opened the game’s scoring.

Alan Williams was brought off the bench as usual but was unable to keep his double-double streak alive finishing with 10 points and only 5 rebounds. Williams finished with zero offensive boards and the team finished with only 4, tying their season-low set only nine days ago against Charlotte.

Dirk Nowitzki showed no signs of slowing down as he and Harrison Barnes paced the Dallas scorers with 23 points each, Dirk on 10-14 from the field, and Barnes with 13-14 from the free throw line. Dirk also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for his 7th double-double this season.