Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker scored 70 points - the youngest player ever to exceed even 56 points, and now the owner of the highest career-high of ANY active NBA player.
Yet the Boston Celtics players were not pleased despite getting the much-needed win for their playoff push.
"It was weird what they were doing," Boston guard Isaiah Thomas said. "I don't think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call timeouts, continuing to foul when we're up 15, but I mean it was obvious what they were trying to do."
While the Suns partied in their locker room, the Celtics were almost silent in theirs, like they had suffered a stinging loss. The juxtaposition could not have explained more about the respective places of the two teams. The Suns were thrilled to find something -- anything -- to break up the monotony of a losing season, but the Celtics hold dreams of a deep playoff run.
1. In almost every case, calling timeouts and committing fouls while trailing by double-digits in the final minute is lame.
2. If there's an exception to said lameness, it would be for a team exactly like the Suns. They entered Friday as a 17-point underdog. After shutting down several of their best players, they have turned to the youngest starting lineup in NBA history, which got blasted by the Celtics during the first quarter. Booker's outburst wasn't just a welcome sight; it was the sun shining after months of night.
I like this guy Jay King. Great surname. I’m a little bit jealous he somehow has fewer letters in his name than I do. But I’ll let that pass.
Why weren’t the Celtics pleased?
The winning team couldn’t enjoy their win BECAUSE THEIR OWN FANS WERE CHEERING ON THE LOSING TEAM’S PLAYER, ENCOURAGING HIM TO KEEP SCORING ON THEM.
"I told him, I said, 'Listen, you're 20 years old and you had your name being chanted in the Garden. You turned the Garden around.''' — Tyson Chandler on Booker, after the game to Doug Haller of azcentral.com.
The winning team couldn’t enjoy their win because their own fans HEARTILY BOO’D the referees when they waved off another three points from the opponent’s total.
The winning team couldn't enjoy their win because their own fans cheered Booker making a shot on their own basket during a dead ball despite Crowder’s attempt to block it.
The winning team couldn’t enjoy their win because every damn person in that building forgot about the scoreboard and cared only for Booker’s point total.
That’s what happens when you witness the first 70-point game ever scored in the Gahhden.
That’s what happens when you witness something the first 70-point game in the whole league in 12 years.
That’s what happens when you witness something that’s happened only 11 times in NBA history.
Only SIX PLAYERS have scored 70 points!— NBA History (@NBAHistory) March 25, 2017
WILT CHAMBERLAIN: 6 times
Still, the Celtics were a little miffed.
Suns coach Watson couldn’t care less.
"I'm not coming into any arena trying to be liked. I don't care about being liked. We come in here and we're trying to build something with this young group. If people don't like us while we build it, so what. Do something about it. Simple as that."
What does ‘do something about it?’ mean.
How about even trying to guard him. The Celtics had Marcus Smart on Booker most of the fourth, but Smart couldn’t stop him. They didn’t double-team Booker at any point.
How about not putting him on the line? Booker scored 24 of his point on 26 free throws.
For his part, Booker handled the game like a man.
"It is [weird] because we've all been winners most of our life," he said. "But at the same time, the way our season's gone right now, we're kind of looking for something to celebrate. And that meant a lot to see my veterans happy. Tyson Chandler cheering me on. Jared Dudley had 10 assists tonight looking for me every time downcourt. It is [weird] sometimes, but you have to see the beauty in it.
"At the end of the day, history was made, and I couldn't do it without my team, so they're gonna celebrate."
Apparently, Crowder promised Booker he wasn’t going to even score 50, as the 4th began with Booker already at 42.
Asked about jawing with Crowder during the game, Booker said: "We were just messing around. Crowder's a really good player. He said, I think at the start of the fourth he said, 'You're not going to get 50.' I said, 'I wish you were out here.' I think he was sitting at the time. We were just exchanging throughout the rest of the game. Like I said, I respect the Celtics, what they've done here, the storied franchise that they have. Best of luck to them in the playoffs."
LOL Mr. Salty, Jae Crowder.
The tone of this ESPN article by Chris Forsberg seems unnecessarily salty too.
For the record, Booker had 60 before the Suns started fouling and stopping the clock to give Booker more chances to score. The Suns didn’t start extending the game until 3:37 remained with Booker already in the record books. OF COURSE they ran up his point total. I guarantee you if Isaiah Thomas had 60 points with half a quarter to go, the Celtics would not stop giving him the ball.
Of the 70+ point games in history, nearly all of them have been posted in a meaningless game. Of Wilt’s six 70+ games, three were in losses. Others were in mega-wins. You don’t think he ran up his point total in his 100-point game? You don’t think Kobe Bryant ran up his score in his 81 point game against the Knicks? You don’t think David Robinson ran up his point total when he scored 73 in the final game of a non-playoff season to ensure he won the scoring title that year?
Of course, scoring 70 is greedy.
But don’t forget Booker also had 6 assists, more dimes than any other 70+ scorer in history.
And he’s only 20 friggin years old!
Devin Booker scored 70 points in the NBA, tonight. This was him over 3 years ago... IN HIGH SCHOOL. pic.twitter.com/vy8dio8qgp— Jake Weingarten (@JakeWeinNBA) March 25, 2017
Cal couldn’t contain himself
Coach John Calipari, who just witnessed his own team win a Sweet 16 game behind a 39-point performance by a freshman guard, couldn’t help mentioning Booker’s scoring binge too.
By the way, Booker never even scored 20 in college, coming off the bench for Calipari’s nearly-undefeated Kentucky team in 2014-15.
Watch it all now
Did you miss the game? Watch all the scoring right here.
Here’s an interview with ESPN.
Curious what other NBA players thought of Booker’s scoring binge? Check that out here.