Devin Booker proves clutch for Phoenix Suns in thrilling win against Portland


Michael Tipton (Flickr)

Devin Booker delivered from the line to clinch the game on Thursday

Daniel Moreno, Reporter

In a battle of scoring guards, it came down to Suns guard Devin Booker closing in the stadium he controls — Phoenix Suns Arena.

With only two regular-season games remaining, every win matters in the race for the best record in the West.

The Suns are one win behind the Utah Jazz after a close victory against the Portland Trailblazers Thursday evening when they showed they have no quit in them.

In a stalemate first quarter, both teams traded shots, both relying on strong team efforts.

This even play foreshadowed the competitive closeness between these two teams, driven by powerhouse backcourts.

“It speaks to the toughness of our guys and ability to lock into a game plan,” Suns Coach Monty Williams said.

Mental toughness seemed a necessity for the Suns Thursday night.

Poor shooting by Phoenix and the Blazer’s CJ McCollum beginning to catch fire painted a bleak picture as the Suns went down one to end the half.

The Sun’s patience served them well after halftime.

Led by their veteran point guard Chris Paul, Phoenix took control in the third quarter with strong support by small forwards Torey Craig and Mikal Bridges.

While Phoenix Suns Arena may be controlled by Booker, it was Suns point guard Cameron Payne who set it ablaze through the first half of the fourth quarter.

“I knocked down some big-time shots. That just comes from being aggressive and having confidence every night.” Payne said.

This was only the beginning of the one-two punch with Paul fanning the flames. He seemingly couldn’t miss down the stretch to keep a dangerous Damian Lillard from closing out the game for the Trailblazers.

Despite thrilling shooting in the second half, the game came down to how well each team could perform at the charity stripe.

When Dario Saric missed a pair of free throws that would have put the Suns up by 1 — Lillard did what he does and put the Trail Blazers up three points with only 34 seconds left in the game.

However, resilience kept the Suns from setting, staying aggressive and getting Bridges to the line where he made both shots, keeping the game within one.

A pair of missed free throws by Trail Blazers power forward Robert Covington allowed for Booker to showcase his clutch gene.

After getting fouled on a midrange shot, Booker followed the late-game trend and reached the free-throw line.

True to form — he sank both and won the game 118-117.