On a night where Kawhi Leonard’s absence was the news before the game, the play of Devin Booker made all the news during the game in the Phoenix Suns’ 129-124 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. With the win, Phoenix takes the lead in their best-of-seven first-round Western Conference Playoff series two games to one.
Charles Barkley has had a lot of great playoff moments and games, including five games of at least 40 points. Despite participating in the postseason with three different teams – Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Houston – all five of those 40-point games came when Sir Charles was a member of the Suns. As a result, Barkley was the team leader in the clubhouse until DBook took the floor Thursday night.
Booker ensures Suns don’t lose one they should not
Facing the Clippers without Kawhi, Phoenix had to win on Thursday night, to take back homecourt and wrestle control of the series. Starting with the first quarter, Booker ensured the Suns would win. With 13 first-quarter points, DBook showed he came to play and kept a team that was struggling to score in the game.
At 27-27 at the end of the first quarter, the Suns were in the game, thanks mainly to DBook. Booker started the game cooking, doing 6 of 11 (54.5%) in the first quarter, which included going 1 of 2 from three-point land. Unfortunately for the Suns, the rest of the team was only 5 of 12 (42%), including going just 1 of 7 from three-point range.
Fortunately, some other Phoenix players got going in the second quarter, and the Suns took the lead during a hectic stretch that was capped by a Booker steal and three-point basket, giving Phoenix an eight-point lead at 50-42 they would not lose. Primarily thanks to Booker.
DBook does it all for the Suns to take the series lead
After scoring 21 points in the first half, DBook ensured the Suns would reclaim homecourt advantage by pouring in 24 second-half points, demonstrating an all-around game that has him on a trajectory to be one of the game’s all-time greats.
The all-time leader in 40+ point playoff games is Michael Jordan with 38; Booker was doing his best Jordan impression on Thursday evening as he got his fifth.
DBook displayed an incredible all-around game on both ends of the floor. DBook was dunking, using both hands, hitting floaters in the lane, crushing it in the midrange, and adding three three-pointers to boot. With 3 steals, 2 blocks, and 7 rebounds, DBook did his part to stop the Clippers in a game that featured little defense.
It was a good thing Devin had his game going because Norman Powell was on fire for the Clippers, scoring 42 himself, including 7 three-pointers, and Russell Westbrook poured in 30. Booker was not alone as Kevin Durant had 28 for the Suns and, most critically, went 11 of 11 from the free throw line, where the Suns won the game, making 35 of 46 attempts, while the Clippers were just 19 of 25.
There is little rest for either team, with the next game coming Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles, with the Clippers hoping Leonard can return and the Suns hoping to steal a game and put a stranglehold on the series.