All of the pieces continue to fall into place for this team. And for the second straight game, it was Devin Booker who looked like the best player on the court.
Here’s how it all happened.
The Suns struggled to get their offense going out of the gate, clearly at least a little intimidated by the Clippers’ combination of length and intelligence. Phoenix began the game shooting just 2-10 from the field, with the lone two field goals coming from Deandre Ayton.
But on the bright side (ha), you could tell from the opening tip that the officiating in this game would be much different than it was against Dallas. Both teams played at a frenetic pace, with just 6 fouls combined called in the first quarter.
Towards the back half of the first quarter, it was Devin Booker time. Book sank multiple threes from well beyond the three-point line, leaving him with 12 first-quarter points. But beyond that, the most impressive thing was that he wasn’t taking possessions off on defense. On one possession he successfully clamped a Kawhi mid-range attempt, only to come back down the length of the court and sink a three in Kawhi’s face.
Speaking of Kawhi, he shot just 1-5 in the first quarter and couldn’t get into a groove. You can thank Mikal Bridges for that, but other secondary help defenders for the Suns played a role here. On one play, Cam Payne swiped the ball free from Kawhi and took it end-to-end for an easy layup.
27-23 Suns after one.
With Booker starting the 2nd quarter on the bench, it was up to Ayton and Rubio to successfully buoy the offense. They delivered, and several contested mid-range shots and pull up threes later, the Suns were still up by 4 as Booker checked back into the game.
Even as the Clippers began to bridge the gap, it was mostly due to the offensive rebounding of Marcus Morris and Ivica Zubac. Leonard and George continued to struggle, closing out the half with a combined 6-19 shooting.
Meanwhile, CAM PAYNE continued to assert himself as a worthy backup guard for the 3rd game in a row. He finished the half with 10 points, including two straight threes in rhythm to give the Suns some momentum.
We also got to see some point Book here, with Booker penetrating and then kicking out to Mikal Bridges for multiple spot-up threes.
Devin Booker easily gets by Paul George, Deandre Ayton sets the impromptu screen and Mikal Bridges hits the corner 3 without hesitation.— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) August 4, 2020
Dominant first half from Booker pic.twitter.com/xvwbmFjZZy
A great all-around half for the Suns, and 17/3/4 for Booker alone at halftime.
63-56 Suns at the half.
A scare early in the 3rd quarter as Book knocked knees with Zubac and looked like he might have to come out of the game. Luckily he was able to continue, and the Suns went right back to their business of draining threes.
Booker looked just fine, too. Here’s a smooth step back on one of the NBA’s best defenders.
However, the Clippers got themselves into the bonus and quickly took advantage, attacking the paint at every opportunity. A quick 8-0 run tied the game up at 80 apiece.
But again, Devin Booker had something to say about that. Here’s his 6th three of the night.
I mean, we could stop showing Devin Booker highlights, BUT WHY?!?! pic.twitter.com/i22PhpOQxW— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) August 4, 2020
Both teams battled back and forth for the remainder of the quarter. Book finished the quarter with 27 points, 7 assists, and just 1 turnover.
The fourth quarter began without Booker again, but the backcourt of Payne/Carter supplied the necessary hustle to stay in the game.
Dario Saric deserves a shout here as well. If they handed out awards for just the Bubble games, he’d be making a strong cases for 6th man of the year right about now. Saric was confident enough in this one to catch the ball in the high post and make a forceful move towards the basket. He’s got 13 points and 8 rebounds halfway through the quarter.
But with Saric playing center, Zubac took advantage. Another offensive rebound and putback attempt brought the Clippers within two, with 5 minutes remaining.
With all the starters back in, Devin Booker went back to work and hit a couple of tough mid-range jumpers to put Phoenix up by 6. Excuse the self-promotion on this one, but Book’s closing in on a franchise record.
30 points and counting for Devin Booker, the 88th such game of his career. He's now just 3 games away from setting the franchise record previously set by Walter Davis.— Sam Cooper (@scooperhoops) August 4, 2020
He's also 23 years old, btw
But then...here comes Kawhi. Two possessions in a row he drives and hits the layup. On the third possession he misses, but Zubac is one again there to clean up and the game is tied 111-111.
Not to be outdone...DEVIN BOOKER.
The Clippers answer once more, and the game is tied 115-115 with 31 seconds left. Phoenix takes a time out. Gotta assume it’s going into the hands of Booker again, who has been phenomenal with 33/4/8 to this point.
And I was right...Booker with the ball, but they trap and force it into the hands of Rubio who takes a wild shot. Mikal Bridges uses his freakish wingspan to get the ball back into the hands of Book and then...
The Phoenix Suns are 3-0 in the Bubble. Playoff hopes are alive, and Devin Booker looks like a superstar on a national stage.
Not sure what else to say here, folks. This is the most exciting time to be a Suns fan in YEARS.