Devin Booker doesn’t want anything to do with the home crowd cheering for the other team’s player, but if that’s going to happen he’s going to answer like it’s a road game.
Booker tied his own Phoenix Suns franchise record (49-year-old franchise, mind you) with 21 straight points - the most consecutive points in a single game - as he helped the Suns keep the lead over the Thunder and win 120-99 to break a 13-game losing streak.
With 21 fourth-quarter points, Booker now leads ALL NBA players with SIX 20-point quarters this season, putting him one ahead of Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry.
And all this with the home crowd openly chanting and cheering for every Russ play, to get his 42nd triple double of the season.
At one point, upon scoring his 19th straight Suns point, Booker turned and mean-mugged his own home crowd.
“For sure,” Booker said, when asked if he took their cheering personally. “I’m a competitor. I’m in my home arena, hearing fans cheer for another guy which... I totally respect Russell. He brings it each and every night. You can’t discredit what he’s been doing. I’m sure he’s gonna pass Oscar for the most triple doubles, but I just didn’t want it to be here.”
“So I took that personally,” Booker said. “I’m just competitor. I’m sure if someone’s chasing a record at home in OKC, you know he’d be feeling the same way.”
The whole Suns team was surprised by how vociferous the crowd was.
“It was crazy,” said Tyler Ulis. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It was basically like an away game.”
The Suns players can deal with it and laugh it off because they are basking in their first win in a month - a wire-to-wire drubbing of the 45-33 Thunder on a night Westbrook was desperate to get that 42nd triple double.
Were the Suns actively denying Westbrook's attempts to get that 9th and 10th assist.
“Yeah we were up 20 and we knew he needed two assists,” Booker said. “All of us are competitors, we didn’t want it to happen here.
“We all caught on to what he was doing.”
Ulis joined in.
“Yeah,” on knowing how many assists he needed, “He knew too. You know that’s all he was trying to do. He was wide open [for a shot], trying to find guys. We stuck to them, ran guys off the line, and it didn’t happen.”
Were all the Suns focused on that?
“Very,” Ulis said. “You know, that’s part of history, you don’t want to be on the opposite end of history when that happens. Like when Devin dropped 70, no matter what Boston’s going to be a part of that. We don't want that to happen on us.”
Three weeks ago, when the Celtics were angry at the Suns going after the scoring record for Booker, coach Watson said to “do something about it.”
In this game, the Suns did something about it by glueing themselves to the Thunder players other than Westbrook, forcing him to take the shot himself or pass into traffic. And it worked.
Booker wants to see Westbrook get that record. Just not here.
While Booker was icing the game for the Suns on one end - scoring 37 points on the night - the team held Westbrook to only 8 assists.
“I hope he gets it,” Booker said. “I like witnessing history too. I think it will be better for him to get it at home anyway.”
After the game, Westbrook tried not to take to reporters. He went into the Suns practice court to take a bunch of shots, and then went to the showers while reporters from all over the country waited for him. Shelbourne. Spears. Elhassan. Shelly Smith. Tim McMahon. And it goes on.
Back to the home crowd.
These were the loudest cheers for another player I’ve ever heard in almost 30 years of attending games over time, even in these last few years where Suns fans actively try to sell off their late-season tickets.
But I understand it completely. The fans were here for RUSS, tonight. He was about to make history - setting a record that hadn’t been beat in 55 years.
Is Devin Booker mad that local fans were cheering so hard for Russ?
“I wouldn't say mad,” Booker said. “Because it’s kinda on us this year. We haven’t given the fans what they wanted to see. We can take that as a team and get better next year and try to change it around, but you know...at the same time it’s still your home arena. And like I said, I’m a competitor, so I did take it personally.”
I agree with Devin.
Accept it, take it as motivation, and move on.
The Lakers won again! So the Suns are still ahead of the Lakers for the 2nd most lottery balls, even after this cleansing 21-point win over the playoff-bound Thunder.