Devin Booker’s 40 points, triple-double, lifts Phoenix Suns past L.A. Clippers

Suns win first game of Western Conference finals

The+Suns+did+not+make+a+first-round+selection+in+the+2021+NBA+Draft.

Michael Tipton (Flickr)

The Suns did not make a first-round selection in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Daniel Moreno, Reporter

With future hall of fame point guard Chris Paul in the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocol following a positive COVID-19 test, the Phoenix Suns would need to draw from their young core.  They would also need a superstar to defend their home ground and lead them to victory in game one of the Western Conference finals against an experienced L.A. Clippers unit.

Check and check.

The Suns didn’t have a “normal” start to their game Sunday afternoon.  They appeared a bit unsettled as they remained down for most of the first quarter.

However, with the game tied 21-21 after the first quarter, the Suns came out in the second period looking like a stronger team — gaining momentum with 3-pointers from small forwards Tory Craig and Cameron Johnson.

After a classic, midrange dagger from Devin Booker with only seconds remaining, the Suns would head into the locker room for halftime, up 57-54.

Booker erupted with 18 third quarter points turning Phoenix Suns Arena into a frenzied sea of twirling orange towels.

Booker’s automatic midrange performance was necessary to combat Clippers All-Star shooting guard Paul George, as he was on the verge of taking over the game.

The Suns ended the quarter tied again, this time at 93.

Phoenix would show no sign of backing down in the final stretch of the game.

With their young stars in rhythm, it was an onslaught of offensive attacks between point guard Cameron Payne, small forward Mikal Bridges, Booker, and Deandre Ayton.

The Clippers would be able to bring it within two points with only 22 seconds remaining, but the pressure from the Suns’ momentum was too much for the Clippers to handle as they broke down defensively.

Booker finished the game with 40 points, 11 assists, and 13 rebounds, his first triple-double.

Teammate Jae Crowder had high praise for Booker’s performance after the game.

“I don’t understand why everyone’s acting surprised at this point,” Crowder said. “This is his first time on this stage but he’s capable. He’s more than capable. He’s more than ready. He prepares like no other.”

After 18 lead changes and both teams game-planning around a missing key player, the Suns came out on top 120-114 in four quarters.

Game two is Tuesday night in Phoenix.