PHOENIX – With the Milwaukee Bucks breathe the Phoenix suns‘Necks on Thursday who threatened to wipe out a once 15-point lead and go home with a series split, the suns relied on the guy who ticks off Chris Paul if he doesn’t do exactly what he did in the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
Shoot. And shoot more.
Devin Booker scored nine of his team high 31 points in the final frame and hit a trio of timely triples to fend off the Bucks’ comeback attempt. The suns had a historic night as a team from across the arch Win 118-108.
“These are the moments he lives for,” said Phoenix coach Monty Williams of Booker. “Don’t run away from it. … He just performs and plays big games.”
The Bucks started the fourth quarter with a 6-2 sprint to reduce the Sun’s lead to six when Booker did the 7-foot Bach Lopez Slapping one hand in the face, he sank a sidestep 3 to bring the lead to nine with 9:41 remaining.
A few minutes later, after Milwaukee drew within seven, he hit consecutive 3s within 31 seconds to increase the lead to 13, which frenzied the crowd.
And it resulted in the Bucks staring at a hole in the 2-0 series.
“Every time Book got a 3 or did something, you could just tell that it just melted them down,” says Sun’s Guard Mikal bridgeswho scored 27 said from Milwaukee. “[They were thinking] like, ‘Damn, we were right there.’ “
It was Booker’s eighth game with over 30 points in those playoffs out of the 18 games Phoenix played en route to the championship round. His total of 490 points for this postseason ranks third all-time for a player entering his first playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research Rick barry (521) and Julius Erving (518).
“The thing about Devin is that he shoots the same way in the first quarter, in the fourth quarter, it doesn’t matter, his shot looks the same,” said Williams. “This is a guy who put a lot of work into his recording, but the mentality, he’s calm in these moments. So we’re grateful for those contributions in these moments.”
Paul, who supplemented Booker’s attack with 23 points and eight of his own assists, was a bit sharper with the bar he set for his 24-year-old teammate.
“If Book shoots it down, I’ll assume it’ll go in,” said Paul. “I get mad at him if he doesn’t shoot.”
Booker finished 7 of 12 of 3 in a night when his team went 20-on-40, setting the record for the second-most 3-pointers ever made in a final game.
“I mean the guys are working on it,” Williams said of his group’s performance. “We have a let-it-fly mentality.”
Booker hit 10 of his last 15 tries after starting 2 to 10 and got sharper as the game progressed. He became the sixth player in the history of the final to finish with 30 points, five rebounds, five assists and five 3s Stephen Curry (who did it four times), Kevin Durant (twice), Lebron James, Draymond Green and Rashard Lewis.
But while his teammates marveled at his game – “He will not flee from any fight, fight or any situation that the basketball court offers”, Jae Crowder said – Booker returned the loan directly to those he shares the court with.
“This is just team,” said Booker. “Team basketball. I think a couple of [the shots] were open and we prepared for these moments. “
For Paul, who is within grasp of the title he has pursued for 16 years, he said he appreciated working with Booker on this endeavor.
“He stays in attack mode the whole game,” said Paul. “And that’s what I love about him.”