The Phoenix Suns’ loss last night to the Toronto Raptors felt like a dream. You know the one. Your surroundings are blurred in the mist of semi-consciousness. You are self-aware, but you are also desperately stuck. You are cognizant of what is going on around you in the real world, but your sleep state paralyzes you into panic and desperation.
Perhaps it was the 5:30pm Arizona start time. When was the last time a game started outside of the top of an hour? Sure, the tip always comes at about the eight-minute mark, but not the 38-minute mark! Perhaps it was the fact that the Suns were in a different country or that the team has been away for so long. Whatever the reasoning, the game simply felt off. There was an eerie fog about it from the tip.
The Phoenix Suns followed suit. The team had their third-worst shooting night from the field at 40.4% and their second-worst shooting night from beyond the arc at 26.9%. Wide-open shots that typically fall simply were clanking off of the iron. We know that happens in the NBA quite often, that teams can be what we classify as “off”.
Still, there was an uneasy feeling in the air. Ominous, dare I say.
When the third quarter began, the Suns were down 60-53 following a less-than-stellar first half, trailing a team in the Raptors that had lost the previous night to the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn. Devin Booker, who had shot an uncharacteristic 1-of-8 from the field through the first two quarters, drove down the land right side of the lane with 10:21 left in the third. He jumped in the air and passed the ball out to Eric Gordon, but when he returned to planet earth, landed on the foot of Dennis Schroder.
Weirdness confirmed. Injury inflicted.
Here is where you must allow me to vent a bit. What’s the point of writing for a Suns’ community if I can’t use it as a therapy session through the art of the written word?
It feels like we can never have nice things. Devin Booker was just named Western Conference Player of the Week. Michael Pina from The Ringer just published an exquisite article about how Devin Booker potentially is the best point guard currently in the game. Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic said before the game that, “He’s playing the best basketball in his life right now.”
Things are looking up, things are looking great, and Booker is fulfilling his destiny as one of the premier players in the NBA. He is about to take it to th— turned ankle. Insert worry here.
The Suns’ Twitter-verse reacted as well to the events in Canada:
Me witnessing a Devin Booker injury pic.twitter.com/LgvPvLRTV6— Suns Are Better (@SunsAreBetter) November 30, 2023
DEVIN BOOKER INJURY AN HOUR AFTER I DRAFTED HIM TO MY FANTASY TEAM— Johnny (@jawnieeeee) November 30, 2023
Beal’s been hurt all season. KD just came back from injury. Booker just got hurt again. It’s exhausting.— Danny Shapiro (@DannyShapiro13) November 30, 2023
I know that Suns’ Daddy Dave King will put something together reminding us that everything will be a-okay in the long run. That it is better this happened in game 18, not game 80. That this is part of the game, that it could’ve been worse, that we shouldn’t overreact. All are correct, but still, let me have this despair for a moment!
The frustration that was draped across his face was felt across an entire fan base. A long, suffering fanbase. Devin departed the court, although news later came that this was due to his need to take a bathroom break.
Given the competitive nature possessed by Booker, he returned to the game with 3:59 minutes left in the third quarter. came It was clear that he was ineffective, however. There was no cutting. There was no playmaking. There was no explosiveness off of that right ankle. There was just irritation and anguish on his face during every time out.
“Stepped on his foot, part of the game,” Booker said when asked about the injury. “I don’t know if it got stiffer, but I wasn’t going to spend the rest of the night trying to beat people off the dribble. Still taking what the defense was giving us. They were still trapping so I thought I could be out there, force that gravity and get open shots for other people.”
It wasn’t an effective return for Book, who ended the night with just 8 points on 2-of-12 shooting.
Devin Booker was 2-of-12, which tied the third-worst shooting percentage of his career in games he shots at least 10 shots. pic.twitter.com/Z0RNZfF3xg— Trevor Booth (@TrevorMBooth) November 30, 2023
And now we wait. We wait for Booker to return home to Phoenix and, before their game against the Denver Nuggets, have his ankle looked at. What is problematic is this is the same leg in which Booker had a foot issue, then an ankle issue, and then a calf strain, all earlier this season that cost him 8 games.
“It’s a long flight. See how it feels,” Booker said of his availability.
We wait for Booker to return home to Phoenix and, before their game against the Denver Nuggets, have his ankle looked at. We wait to hear what his status is.
We re-enter the same portal that we’ve lived in for the majority of the season. It’s the “day-to-day” portal. Bradley Beal had a permanent residence in this portal until Frank Vogel said hey we’re just going to have him sit out a few weeks and heal.
What becomes of Devin Booker? We patiently wait as the Nuggets do. We wait in hopes that his health is not a concern. That the ankle is okay. That he just really needed to run to the restroom in the mid-third quarter.
And if it is not? We wait. We enter a lucid dream-like state of waiting. Never waking up. Simply waiting.