Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker picked a great time to have his first career triple-double. Booker had a game-high 40 points(29 in the second half) on 15/29 shooting to go along with game-highs in rebounds (13), and assists (11) as the Suns defeated the Clippers at home 120-114 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday.
According to Stathead, it’s the 12th 40-point triple-double in postseason history.
Booker was at his best in the third quarter. He scored 18 in the quarter, including 16 straight points for the Suns. He would add another 11 points in the fourth, and Phoenix had their largest lead of 10 in the final quarter, and they would hold on for the victory.
According to Booker, the triple-double was great, but the winning was even better.
“I mean, it’s very special, but the win feels better,” Booker said. “That’s what I’m out there for the whole entire time. So part of the triple-double is assists, and that’s my teammates making them pay for running and doubling and seeing different types of defenses… So it takes a whole collective team group to get what we got done tonight.”
Both teams came into this game without key players. The Suns are without Chris Paul, who is out due to health and safety protocols, and for the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard is out due to a sprained knee.
Even when not playing, Paul was engaged and talked to his teammates via FaceTime after the game, which Booker discussed.
“He’s our leader,” Booker said about Paul. “We lean on him for a lot and we know how disappointed he is and frustrated is he couldn’t be out here for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, especially knowing his past history around this time. But we know we had him all the way through. We brought him in the locker room. We had him in our after-game huddle. So he’s proud of us. He’s ready to get back. He’s working and we can’t wait to have him.”
The Clippers came off a series-clinching victory over the Jazz on Friday night, so they had a quick turnaround. However, they got a big-time performance out of Paul George, who scored a team-high 34 points. Despite the loss in Game 1, George is confident Los Angeles can bounce back in Game 2.
“I expect us to get better as the series goes,’ George said. “We’ve been great at it. It’s nothing to kind of panic over right now. You know, we were down Kawhi. We’re playing with a banged-up Marcus(Morris Sr). Yeah, they don’t have Chris Paul either, but it’s a game of adjustments. We’ll figure out what we need to do better. But good thing about it, we expect a long series, and all they did was win one game.”
Without Paul, Booker had to do more, and he did that. Now, if they can get Paul back, things will get even better for the Suns. However, as seen throughout these playoffs, you can never sleep on the Clippers, so expect a better effort in Game 2 on Tuesday night in Phoenix.
-The Suns had six players in double-figures. Deandre Ayton had 20 points on 10-of-14 shooting and grabbing 9 rebounds. Ayton has shot over 50 percent from the field in all 11 of the Suns’ playoff games.
-Making his first career postseason start, Cameron Payne just missed out on a double-double, tallying 11 points and a postseason career-high 9 assists.
-Playing in just his third postseason game of this year’s NBA Playoffs, DeMarcus Cousins came off the bench tonight to add 11 points and 4 rebounds for L.A.
-The Suns shot 55.1 percent (49-of-89) from the field tonight, a new playoff high this season, while limiting Los Angeles to 45.5 percent (40-of-88) shooting. It marked the 25th time in franchise history the Suns have shot 55 percent or better from the field in a postseason game, and the first time since May 5, 2006. Phoenix is 21-4 all-time in such games during the playoffs.