How Devin Booker Scored 70 Points Against Boston

Mar 24, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) controls the ball during the second half against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) controls the ball during the second half against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

When the first half buzzer sounded with the Suns down 23 to the Boston Celtics, the outcome already seemed to be decided. Phoenix has neither the talent nor the firepower to withstand the Boston onslaught, meaning for Suns players who have not had much to cheer about this season, only one thing remained: Break a record.

Devin Booker didn’t wake up yesterday morning thinking “I’m going to score 70 points today.” He certainly set out to play hard and well; he knew he was going to play to win; and he probably kept a keen focus on the greater good and wanted to use this game as one more step toward being the best player he could be.

In fact, if you had told any person in the basketball world even at halftime that Devin Booker would score 70 points, they would have chuckled, sipped their drink, and probably changed the channel to the much more competitive Sweet 16 matchups that were just tipping off.

But, as so many athletes say, this is why the game is played on the court, and not on paper.

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Newly-signed Mavericks wing excited for rivalry with Suns and Devin Booker
Newly-signed Mavericks wing excited for rivalry with Suns and Devin Booker /

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  • Playing without the normal contingent of sitting veterans, the Suns were also unfortunately without T.J. Warren for a second consecutive game due to a left foot contusion. Thus with a management mandated eight-man rotation plus Jarell Eddie, Devin Booker was the only above-average scorer available for today’s game, meaning, if he had a bad game, the Suns were, as a whole, going to have a really  bad game.

    Fortunately for us all, he realized this responsibility and took it upon himself to carry the team’s offense on his back.

    D-Book played all 12 minutes of the opening frame scoring 10 points on 3-7 shooting, 1-2 from three, and 3-4 from the free throw line. Nice, but nothing special. The team as a whole shot only 22.7% and if for some reason Booker hadn’t scored, the Suns would have finished the quarter with a historically low 6 points. For those who didn’t watch the game, Boston exploded to a 25-5 lead four and a half minutes into the game. For the Valley of the Suns the opening period was terrible.

    Phoenix as a whole shot much better in the second quarter finishing at 61.1%, although Booker was fairly static in his scoring, recording 9 points on 4-7 from the field and 1-1 from the charity stripe. 19 points by halftime is nice, and is a decent scoring game in most instances. But by this point it was obvious the offense was flowing through Booker so it seemed like he still had a decent shot at finally breaking the 40-point threshold, something he had fallen short of twice this season setting and tying his career-high at 39 earlier in the year. However it should be noted that had Booker only maintained his first half scoring pace and not gone on the torrid run that he ultimately would, he would have finished with 38 points, one off of his career-high, though still an impressive scoring night for a still maturing 20-year old.

    Yet the Boston Celtics did something inexplicable that Devin Booker took full advantage of: They started fouling – a lot. The Suns were fouled 12 times in the third quarter, Booker receiving six of those calls, allowing him to shoot, and make, ten free throws. His offense overall turned up a notch as well as he drained 6-10 from the field including a three-pointer, finishing the quarter with 23 points, easily breaking his personal game-high with 42 points and placing himself within striking distance of 50 and even 60 should he remain hot.

    Devin, who had already played 32:58 including the entire first and third periods, came out of the fourth quarter gate ready to continue scoring and even though tired legs were on the verge of taking hold, nothing was slowing him down.

    Although this season the fourth quarter has been best known for Isaiah Thomas as has he holds the NBA record for highest scoring average in the period since stats on the subject were recorded beginning in 1996-97 (and he did score 18 points in the fourth last night), Devin Booker owned  the quarter becoming a scoring machine seeking out and destroying every statistical historical plateau he could conceivably reach – 50 points was reached with 6:40 remaining; 54 points, placing him third all-time in franchise history fell at the 3:54 mark; he moved to second by himself in team history with 2:20 left and grabbed the franchise record with a putback basket under the hoop with 1:48 in the fourth; 70 came with 37.8 on the clock, and he still had two more shot attempts that each fell short. Draining jumper after jumper, sidling into the lane for layups, and continuing to nail free throws at an exceptional clip, Booker tied his own personal franchise record for points in a quarter with 28 on 8-16 from the field including two three’s, and 10-11 from the stripe (Booker also threw in a spectacular block on a Isaiah Thomas layup attempt for good measure).

    D-Book would not be denied, and his teammates kept finding him whenever possible. His scoring became so infections that the Boston crowd (knowing that their home team had the victory securely in their grasp) oo’d and aah’d at every Booker basket, cheering his makes and sighing at his misses. They even jeered and boo’d the officials after a review waved off a spectacular off-balance three-pointer at the top of the key by Booker because a foul had taken place before he had entered his shooting motion. That three would have given him 67 with 1:05 remaining.

    Booker also wasn’t flinging shots up hoping for them to fall. He was in fact spectacularly efficient. In the second half and especially the fourth quarter, the team’s scoring was placed squarely in his hands, yet he shot 14-26 in the second half – 21-40 for 52.5% for the game. But most impressive was his free throw shooting as he drained 24-26, while his teammates heaved a paltry 12-23.

    Yes the Suns lost, and did so in wire-to-wire fashion never leading and finding themselves down by as many as 26 points – right now a prominent trend. But Booker didn’t score 70 selfishly. He did this not only because he was the best scorer on the court, he was hitting his shots, and his teammates kept feeding him the ball. And for those who were unhappy that Booker reached this mark in a losing effort, know this: this was the 11th 70+ individual scoring game in NBA history.

    It was the fifth time that the high scorer’s team has lost.

    On the night, Booker not only scored the most points in franchise history (70) and tied his own team record for most points in a quarter (28), but he set the franchise record for most points in a half (51 in the second half), most free throws made (24) and most field goals attempted (40).

    Here is a chart of every shot he attempted from the field:

    And here is a breakdown of his scoring by quarter:

    Shot descriptions via the official NBA Game Book

    1st Quarter

    11:13 MISS 23′ Jump Shot
    10:01 MISS 16′ Jump Shot
    7:43 Free Throw 1 of 2 (1)
    7:43 MISS Free Throw 2 of 2
    5:58 MISS 6′ Driving Floating Jump Shot
    4:40 7′ Driving Hook Shot (3)
    4:28 Free Throw 1 of 2 (4)
    4:28 Free Throw 2 of 2 (5)
    3:04 6′ Driving Floating Jump Shot (7)
    2:44 25′ 3PT Jump Shot (10)
    :26.9 MISS 26′ 3PT Jump Shot

    2nd Quarter

    7:38 23′ Pullup Jump Shot (12)
    7:07 10′ Pullup Bank Shot (14)
    6:20 20′ Step Back Jump Shot (16)
    5:56 14′ Pullup Bank Shot (18)
    5:56 Free Throw 1 of 1 (19)
    4:18 MISS 1′ Driving Layup
    3:56 MISS 14′ Step Back Jump Shot
    2:09 MISS 1′ Layup

    3rd Quarter

    11:09 8′ Driving Floating Jump Shot (21)
    11:09 Free Throw 1 of 1 (22)
    10:38 MISS 20′ Jump Shot
    10:31 Free Throw 1 of 2 (23)
    10:31 Free Throw 2 of 2 (24)
    8:52 7′ Turnaround Jump Shot (26)
    8:52 Free Throw 1 of 1 (27)
    7:49 MISS 24′ 3PT Jump Shot
    7:00 MISS 16′ Fadeaway Jumper
    5:41 Free Throw 1 of 2 (28)
    5:41 Free Throw 2 of 2 (29)
    4:32 Free Throw 1 of 2 (30)
    4:32 Free Throw 2 of 2 (31)
    3:45 26′ 3PT Jump Shot (34)
    3:27 Free Throw 1 of 2 (35)
    3:27 Free Throw 2 of 2 (36)
    2:12 16′ Fadeaway Jumper (38)
    1:49  Finger Roll Layup (40) *Sets Career-High
    :39.9 MISS 26′ 3PT Jump Shot
    :12.8 Pullup Jump Shot (42)

    4th Quarter

    11:47 MISS 26 3PT Jump Shot
    10:57 MISS 2′ Driving Layup
    9:03 1′ Driving Layup (44)
    9:03 Free Throw 1 of 1 (45)
    8:43 MISS 23′ Pullup Jump Shot
    7:12 12′ Pullup Jump Shot (47)
    6:40 1′ Driving Layup (49)
    6:40 Free Throw 1 of 1 (50) *Becomes 6th player in franchise history to score 50
    6:17 11′ Fadeaway Bank Shot (52) *Passes Amar’e Stoudemire and Cliff Robinson for 4th All-Time
    5:26 MISS 25′ 3PT Jump Shot
    4:02 MISS 26′ 3PT Jump Shot
    3:46 Free Throw 1 of 2 (53)
    3:46 Free Throw 2 of 2 (54) *Passes Tony Delk for 3rd All-Time
    2:20 Cutting Finger Roll Layup Shot (56)
    1:58 28′ 3PT Pullup Jump Shot (59) *Passes Tom Chambers for 2nd All-Time
    1:49 MISS 1′ Layup
    1:48 2′ Putback Layup (61) *Passes Tom Chambers for All-Time Single Game Record
    1:19 25′ 3PT Jump Shot (64)
    :45.2 MISS Free Throw 1 of 2
    :45.2 Free Throw 2 of 2 (65)
    :42.0 Free Throw 1 of 3 (66)
    :42.0 Free Throw 2 of 3 (67)
    :42.0 Free Throw 3 of 3 (68)
    :37.8 Free Throw 1 of 2 (69)
    :37.8 Free Throw 2 of 2 (70) *Becomes 6th player in NBA History with 70+ Points
    :06.9 MISS 31′ 3PT Jump Shot
    :2.9 MISS 11′ Jump Shot