Devin Booker went on an offensive tear in the third quarter, hitting jumpers from all around the arena and setting a pace for scoring that had never been witnessed before in the history of the NBA playoffs.
The Phoenix Suns were in desperate need of almost every player.
Booker led the Suns to a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs on Tuesday night, leading them to a 136-130 win over the Clippers in a game that was decided in five games. Booker scored 47 points, including 25 points in a phenomenal third quarter.
After watching Booker’s third quarter, Durant said it had a “spiritual” feel. “As I grow older, I find that I yell less and less during games, but when he made that three at the top of the key, I felt that excitement, and I know that everyone in the stadium felt it as well. We thrive off of his aggressive nature.”
The Clippers did not go down without a fight, almost erasing a 20-point hole early in the fourth quarter by hitting four consecutive 3-pointers, allowing them to reduce the distance swiftly.
In the game’s closing three minutes, Los Angeles had a number of opportunities to equalize the score but could not do so. In the last 31.3 seconds of the game, Kevin Durant converted a layup to extend Phoenix’s lead to 134-130, and then he made two free throws to put the Suns ahead by six points.
Booker said, “I believe that it’s a wonderful lesson for us going ahead,” and I agree. “Refrain from fiddling with your meals. Complete the race in the best possible way. Play must be continued right up until the final whistle is blown.
Deandre Ayton ended the game with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Durant concluded with 31 points. Booker had a field goal percentage of 19 out of 27 shots.
The last free throws by Durant finished up an exciting back-and-forth second half that saw the Clippers seize the lead early in the third quarter with a score of 71-61.
Then the Suns, inspired by Booker’s outstanding shot-making, unleashed a tidal wave of offense, pouring in 50 points in the third quarter to take a 111-94 lead into the fourth quarter. Booker’s performance was the driving force behind the Suns’ surge. Booker scored 10 points on 11 attempts during the run, including three 3-pointers and a tomahawk slam on a fastbreak.
Monty Williams, the coach of the Suns, claimed that while the player was performing at that level, “We’re not calling any plays.”
The bewildered Clippers only had an explanation once it was too late to provide one. Mason Plumlee scored 20 points off the bench for Los Angeles, while Norman Powell led the team in scoring with 27 points.
Russell Westbrook had a rough night, as he only scored 14 points on 3 of 18 shooting and committed a costly turnover in the last minute by passing the ball to Terance Mann, who was caught off guard by the pass. Westbrook’s night was a washout.
The Suns will have a matchup against the top-seeded Denver Nuggets in the second round. Game 1 is Saturday in Denver.
The Clippers announced the previous week that Leonard had a damaged right knee, which brought about an unexpected development in the series. The two-time Most Valuable Player of the Finals received the injury in Game 1 and played through it in Game 2, his health deteriorated after both games.
He was absent for Games 3 and 4, both of which were losses for the Clippers.
Yet, Los Angeles maintained a competitive edge throughout those games, and their performance on Tuesday night continued in that vein – at least temporarily. Powell’s 16 points helped propel the Clippers to a halftime advantage of 70-61 against the Grizzlies. Ayton led the Suns in scoring with 18 points.
Booker is the third player in the last 25 years’ worth of regular seasons to score at least 25 points in a quarter while competing in a postseason game. Allen Iverson and Damian Lillard, who will be 25 years old in 2019, rounded out the group (26 in 2001).
Cam Payne, a backup guard for the Suns, made his postseason debut during the first round of the playoffs. Because of his aching back, he had to sit out the first four games. He had three minutes of playing time but did not score. Considering the regular season and the playoffs, the venue hosted its 77th consecutive sellout.
Clippers: Eight-time NBA Champions All-Star In addition to that, Paul George could not play due to an injured right knee. Since March 21, he has not participated in any games. Had the edge in the first half in the rebounding battle, 26-16. Bones Hyland, a backup guard, scored nine points in the first half of the game.