Both the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers came in compromised, and both tried to compensate with great shotmaking. Either could have won this one. Each team was missing a future Hall-of-Famer: Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard both out.
The Suns rode their raucous home crowd to a halftime lead (57-54) before the Clippers drained a bunch of threes to take a brief 84-78 lead in the third quarter.
Then Devin Booker flexed HARD, draining a bunch of shots to get the Suns back in the lead and they never looked back.
Booker delivered his first triple-double of his career in this one, getting his 9th and 10th assists on feeds to Mikal Bridges for dunks. Booker was incredible the whole game. Just the complete package.
The Suns went up 116-106 with just under two minutes left, but then they seemed to lose their focus and the Clippers used a 8-0 run to pull back within two points with 22 seconds left. The last 3 were off two different offensive rebounds on badly missed shots.
Then Booker made a broken-play dunk with 20 seconds left and grabbed the deciding rebound with 4.6 left.
This is Booker’s world and we are just living in it.
Booker’s line: 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists (only 2 turnovers)
Deandre Ayton had 20 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists on his very first Fathers Day.
SUNS WIN, 120-114
How it unfolded
Early on, both teams were getting good looks at the basket. Paul George was being Paul George, meaning making everything, and both teams were missing open shots. The Suns kept it close by getting rebounds (up 10-7, including 3 offensive), while the Clippers made enough shots to take a 21-18 lead. Paul George had 12 of those points (4-6 shooting).
The quarter ended tied at 21-21, with both teams calling for fouls that did not come. That’s Conference Finals basketball for you!
The Suns gave up 4 turnovers in that quarter (all live-ball steals) vs. the Clippers 0 turnovers. Expect that to level out a bit.
Star watch at the end of First Quarter:
- Booker, 5 points (2-6 shooting), and 5 big rebounds
- George, 12 points (4-8 shooting), 1 rebound and 2 steals.
The second quarter started with Tyronn Lue going even bigger, putting in DeMarcus Cousins against Dario Saric, with Cousins getting the ball on three straight possessions. The Suns quickly adjusted by going at Cousins on the other end, converting a layup (Cam J) and a shooting foul for 2 FTs (Dario) and then another layup (Cam J). The Suns briefly took a 35-30 lead but then gave up a 7-0 run (Cousins had 5 points). He’s definitely an offensive talent, still, but not much on defense.
Kennard made his second three to put the Clippers up 40-35, forcing a timeout by Monty Williams to reset and put in Ayton. Which forced a timeout by Lue to reset after a quick 4-0 Suns run cut the lead. He left Cousins in though and the Suns went on another 6-0 run to take a 45-40 lead.
Then the Clippers went on a run by attacking E’Twaun Moore, who’d subbed in for Payne. They scored on three straight possessions going after him.
The Suns eventually took the lead in a back and back forth affair getting more open looks for Booker — who got really aggressive in getting to his spots.
Suns up 57-54 at halftime.
Suns — Booker 11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists; Ayton 14 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist; Cameron Johnson 10 points, 1 steal
Clippers — George 17 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and a block; Cousins 11 points, 3 rebounds, Reggie Jackson 9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
The Clippers adjusted to Deandre Ayton — nice to see huh?!? — by playing Ivica Zubac to start the second half, but while Zubac was able to score on the Suns switching defense he could not keep up on defense and the Suns scored on just about every possession down.
Suns up 74-68 at the 7:41 mark despite the Clips making their threes off a lot of rotations. Booker had a bucket and three quick assists in the run. Cameron Payne is up to 9 assists himself.
The Suns took a 76-68 lead, but then the Clippers went on a three-point barrage — we’ve seen this before! — and took at 84-78 lead with a 16-2 run that was all either threes or dunks (Zubac). Reggie Jackson has 11 points in this quarter alone. The Suns went ice cold, missing open shots they really needed. E’Twaun Moore had another rough stint.
Then Devin Booker stepped up BIG TIME — and soon the Suns took back the lead 90-88. Booker is up to 18 points in the quarter.
Third quarter ends tied 93-93 on big Booker and Paul George shots.
The Suns came out firing in the fourth, using a 10-2 run to take a 103-95 lead while Ty Lue tried to use a lot of backups to buy time for his starters. The Suns were using Book and the bench (which is usually Cam Payne) and that was bad news for the Clips.
Booker is now up to 34 for the game, along with 9 rebounds and 7 assists. Paul George is about to return.
The Suns never looked back in this one, closing it out with a big Booker dunk and rebound to seal the win.