Devin Booker’s 45-point performance ties Charles Barkley for most 40-point playoff games in Suns’ history

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The Phoenix Suns took a 2-1 series lead against the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday night after eeking out a 129-124 win behind Devin Booker’s 45 points. Booker’s outburst ties Charles Barkley’s franchise record for most 40-point playoff games with five. It was a closer contest than many would’ve expected given the Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but despite this L.A. didn’t take it easy on the Suns.

However, it sure looked easy for Booker. He got to his spots all night long, and in typical Booker fashion did so with elite efficiency, shooting 62.1% from the field and 42.9% from 3-point range. He also had six rebounds, three assists and three steals on the night. But it was his scoring that stood out the most, and Phoenix needed every one of those points as Russell Westbrook and Norman Powell did their best to keep the Clippers in this game until the very end.

After the game, Suns head coach Monty Williams lauded Booker’s performance.

“It’s what he’s been doing this series,” he said. “I told him after Game 1 he was the thermostat for the team, and he set the temperature for 48 minutes.”

Williams is right on all accounts here. Booker’s 83 points in the last two games are the most in any two-game playoff stretch in Suns history. He’s also just the third player in league history to average at least 35 points on 60% from the field in their first three games in the playoffs, joining Michael Jordan and Barkley, per CBS Sports’ senior researcher Doug Clawson.

Booker set the tone for Phoenix early, racking up 13 points in the first quarter. It was truly a masterclass in scoring from Booker, who made difficult shots left and right to showcase just how elite of an offensive threat he is. Just look at this absurd corner 3-pointer he makes with Westbrook in his face: 

There are not many guys who can execute this play this perfectly, and yet Booker made it look easy.

But what stands out the most about Booker’s night is the fact that he did most of his damage at the rim. He typically feasts in the midrange, which is where he puts up 51% of his shots. However, against the Clippers on Thursday, Booker carved up L.A.’s interior defense, gliding to the rim for easy layups. He doesn’t get to the rim often, ranking in the 35th percentile among guards in the league in rim frequency this season, but when he does he’s making them at a high clip (68%). Even when he was met with some contact Thursday night, the body control he has to still get a balanced shot off is impressive.

Booker has been coming up big for the Suns, and if he keeps this up this version of Phoenix figures to torment the rest of their playoff opponents.

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Publish Date:2023-04-21 14:22:54

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