Phoenix– sons supper star devin booker Remember dreaming as a kid about dealing with this kind of pressure.
His Sun overtook the top seed denver nuggets 0–2 in their Western Conference Semifinal series. his future Hall of Fame backcourt teammate, chris paul, was sidelined for Friday’s Game 3 with a possible left groin strain. Phoenix needed even more from Booker, who is leading the NBA in scoring and minutes played during these playoffs.
After leading the Suns to his career playoff high with a 47-point performance, Booker said, “This is not the time to fold.” 121-114 win Above the Nuggets at Footprint Center.
Booker also had nine assists in his most impressive performance of the playoff season, including three 45-point outings. According to ESPN Stats & Information Research, he has scored 295 points in these playoffs, the most by any player in the first eight games of a season since Michael Jordan in 1990.
Suns coach Montey Williams said of Booker, “He doesn’t run away from tough things.” “I think it’s his makeup. He understands that Chris doesn’t put much on his plate, but I don’t think he forced it in the way you would think. I think he let the game happen naturally.” Gave it and then to push the issue when the opportunity presented itself. He was very efficient.”
Booker, often making his own shots while handling point guard responsibilities, was historically efficient, shooting 20-of-25 from the floor and 5-of-8 from 3-point range. He became only the second player in NBA history to shoot at least 80% from the floor while scoring 45 points or more in a playoff game. dallas mavericks Legend Dirk Nowitzki, who won the 2011 West Finals Kevin Durant‘S oklahoma city thunder,
Booker said, “Just trying to be aggressive, trying to be ultra-aggressive.” “I understand that when I play like that it opens things up for my teammates.”
Durant, who pushed for a midseason trade to Phoenix in large part because of his immense respect for Booker, added 39 points despite struggling with his jump shot. He was 12-of-31 from the floor—missing eight of his first nine attempts—but continued to attack, going 14-of-16 from the free throw line.
“I lost a lot of good looks early,” said Durant, who had eight assists and no turnovers. “The second quarter, I just tried to get my head down and get to the rim. They’re playing extra aggressive, so they have their hands on me, their body is there. They’re sitting in the paint sometimes, so I just I do.” Offensive to the rim. I try to get down there when I can’t hit a shot and tonight was one of those nights that I couldn’t find anyone to drop down to. So just try to be effective in other ways.”
Only five pairings in NBA history have combined for more points in a playoff game than the 86 by Booker and Durant in Game 3.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone specifically called his team’s defensive effort against Booker “unacceptable”. Malone complained about Booker easing up on pull-up 3-pointers, but according to ESPN Stats & Information Research, Booker was 11–16 on disputed shots.
“We know who we need to stop, but they are talented players,” said the Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic, who recorded his ninth career playoff triple-double with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists. “They are the problem. I would say they are probably the two best scorers in the league right now, who can make a shot and who teams can double-team, send another body and they can still go and shoot hard. can make.” ,
Durant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, was adamant that he was not surprised by his co-star’s dominance, saying Booker has all the qualities you’d expect in a superstar.
“He’s just a leader of this team, this organization,” Durant said. “He brings it every day. We just follow his imprint, and we rally around him.”
ESPN’s Om Youngmisuk contributed to this report.