An interesting and exciting game till the end, the Phoenix Suns inched past the Cleveland Cavaliers with a vintage Devin Booker game. Booker posted 36 points and got really loud MVP chants from the 1,500 fans in attendance.
In a reversal of hero games, Chris Paul led the Suns over the Mavericks a week ago with 34/9/9 when Booker sat with a hamstring injury, and now it’s Booker leading the Suns over the hot-shooting Cavaliers with 36/8/5.
Mikal Bridges also scored 22 points (including 4 game-clinching free throws), and Deandre Ayton fought off the Cavaliers bigs (they started both Andre Drummond and Jarrett Allen) for 15 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks. Gotta give some love to E’Twaun Moore in his first start of the season. He finished with 17 points, 4 assists and 2 steals.
Phoenix was without Paul, as well as Jae Crowder, Dario Saric, Cameron Payne and even Abdel Nader.
The Suns have won 6 of 7 games, and now sit at 14-9 on the season (23 games). A year ago, the Suns did not get their 14th win until game 37, and the year before that their 14th win came in game 65.
The Suns are still in 4th place in the Western Conference.
E’Twaun Moore in the starting spot for Paul, but the offense is running through point Book. Booker had the team going from the start and getting into the offense early. With Frank Kaminski in the at the power forward position, both he and Deandre Ayton are holding down the paint to almost perfection with big blocks leading to fast break point.
It is a different offense without Paul and it is a fast pace offense trying to keep a young team like the Cavs off balance early. But the easy shots inside or both of the Cavs guards, Collen Sexton and Darius Garland keep the Cavs on pace with the Suns in what looks to be a shoot out early.
Cutting and getting to the rim, Mikal Bridges continues to build off his big night against the Boston Celtics.
1st quarter notable players stats:
- Booker: 17 points (7-10 from the field) and 2 assists
- Bridges: 9 points
- 1 offense rebound allowed
- 50% from 3 shooting 3-6
- 8 assists
- 18 points in the paint
- 1 quarter ending buzzer beater (Langston Galloway)
The question going into the 2nd quarter- will the scoring continue with both Bridges and Booker on the bench?
It helps to answer the question with Frank not taking reckless 3-point attempts and continuing to find the open man and getting to the rim.
FRANK is givin' Jarrett Allen the BIZNUSS!!! pic.twitter.com/5smspY6rio— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) February 9, 2021
The Suns as a whole, including the returning Bridges continues to force the issue at the rim, trying to outscore the Cavs.
A little more fun on the court led to fast breaks and DUNKS! at the 7:44 mark the Suns take their biggest lead 49-42. Clicking on the offensive end consistently looked unselfish with the ball hitting every open hand.
A few bad passes and offensive fouls kept the game close. Sexton hit back-to-back 3’s to take the Suns lead down to 56-54.
At the end of the 1st half, the Suns hold the lead at 64-61.
1st half player stats:
- Booker, still with 17 points
- Ayton- 12 points and 8 rebounds (4 offensive)
- Bridges- 14 points 6-7 from the field
- Frank- 7 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds
- 18 assists
- 40 points in the paint
- 4-9 from 3-point land
- 60.4% from the field
Giving up the offensive boards against the Cavs was a fear heading into this game for the Suns. After another second chance bucket granted by Ayton, the Suns made the Cavs pay down low with 3 quick OREBs by the big man.
Sexton was still abusive on the offensive end, with his magical floater and ability to draw the foul giving Frank his 3rd. Fouls are very preciouses for the Suns twin-towers but it was Booker who also grabbed his 3rd. Booker has a reason to be frustrated as fouls, of course, not being called in his favor.
You know who would have gotten this whistle? pic.twitter.com/6C2DqxQ6PJ— Mike Vigil (@protectedpick) February 9, 2021
6:48 left in the 3rd quarter, and the Suns need to start to search for their back bone on defense and to find a connection on offense as they lead 74-71.
After 3 exciting quarters, fouls mounted for Booker, sending him to the bench early after he started to get things going offensively and the fast-break Cavs take a 91-89 lead into the 4th.
Player stats after 3-quarters of play:
- Sexland- 43 points 11 assists
- Booker- 26 points 5 assists
- Bridges- 16 points
- Galloway- 9 points 3 sneaky rebounds
- 12 offensive rebounds
- 58 points in the paint
- 24 assists
The final quarter started with the Cavs having the momentum and the key to stealing it is on the defensive end.
But hold everything, as Frank gets JaVale McGee tossed from the game with a scuffle!
“Frank the Tank, Frank the Tank!” the crowed cheers.
Ahhh yes the “Frank the Tank” chant in the arena— Dan Duarte (@DDuarte89) February 9, 2021
Back to business for the Suns as Booker will look to take over and mistakes need to be at a minimum. Every possession will count.
7:45- Booker with an assist to Moore for a 3
7:03- Cam Johnson hits his first 3 of the night (101-100) after a steal at the other end.
The momentum has returned for the time being behind the supportive crowd.
9-2 run now with Booker hitting a 3. Buckets in the paint for the Cavs are becoming too easy. The return of Frank to the lineup should help but Sexton still shows he is unstoppable. Sexton is Eric Bledsoe with great body language.
Garland is in the mix as well just pushing the ball to the rim and it is, again, unstoppable. The future of the Cavs are in good hands with Sexland.
The Cavs tried to work their way into the paint and steal a win against the Suns but Booker was just too much as the Suns win. It was an almost impossible escape.
Final player stats of the game:
Moore- 17 points
Booker- 36 points
Ayton- 15 points 16 rebounds
Bridges- 22 points