Well timed 3-pointers within the 4th quarter of Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker “soften” Milwaukee Bucks in Sport 2
PHOENIX – When the Milwaukee Bucks were backing the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, threatening to wipe out a once 15-point lead and go home with a series split, the Suns relied on the guy who ticks Chris Paul off if he does He didn’t do exactly what he did in the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
Shoot. And shoot more.
Devin Booker scored nine of his team highs 31 in the final frame and hit a trio of timely triples to fend off the Bucks’ comeback attempt. The Suns had a historic night as a team from Beyond the Arch in the 118-108 victory.
“These are the moments he lives for,” said Phoenix coach Monty Williams of Booker. “Don’t run away. … He just performs and plays big games.”
The Bucks started the fourth quarter on a 6-2 sprint to narrow the Suns’ lead to six when Booker sank a sidestep 3 around the lead with the 7-foot Brook Lopez slapping a hand in the face with 9. to press nine: 41 left.
A few minutes later, after Milwaukee drew within seven, he hit consecutive 3s within 31 seconds to increase the lead to 13, which frenzied the crowd.
And it resulted in the Bucks staring at a hole in the 2-0 series.
“Every time Book hit a 3 or did something, you could just tell it just melted them down,” Sun’s guard Mikal Bridges, who scored 27 points, said of Milwaukee. “[They were thinking] like, ‘Damn, we were right there.’ “
It was Booker’s eighth game with over 30 points in those playoffs out of the 18 games Phoenix played en route to the championship round. His 490 total points this postseason, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, is third all-time for a player competing in his first playoffs, just behind Rick Barry (521) and Julius Erving (518).
“The thing with Devin, he shoots in the first quarter, the same in the fourth quarter, it doesn’t matter, his shot looks the same,” said Williams. “This is a guy who put a lot of work into his recording, but the mentality, he’s calm in these moments. So we’re grateful for those contributions in these moments.”
Paul, who supplemented Booker’s attack with 23 points and eight of his own assists, was a bit sharper with the bar he set for his 24-year-old teammate.
“If Book shoots it, I’ll assume it’ll go in,” Paul said. “I get mad at him if he doesn’t shoot.”
Booker finished 7 out of 12 out of 3 in a night when his team went 20-on-40, setting the record for the second-most 3-pointers ever made in a final game.
ESPN statistics and information
“I mean the guys are working on it,” Williams said of his group’s performance. “We have a let-it-fly mentality.”
Booker hit 10 of his last 15 tries after starting 2 to 10 and got sharper as the game progressed. He became the sixth player in the history of the final to finish with 30 points, five rebounds, five assists and five 3s – alongside Stephen Curry (who did it four times), Kevin Durant (twice), LeBron James, Draymond Green and Rashard Lewis.
But while his teammates marveled at his game – “He won’t flee any fight, match or situation that the basketball court offers,” said Jae Crowder – Booker returned the appreciation to those he shares the court with.
“This is just team,” said Booker. “Team basketball. I think a couple of [the shots] were open and we prepared for these moments. “
For Paul, who is within reach of the title he has pursued for 16 years, he said he appreciated working with Booker on this endeavor.
“He stays in attack mode the whole game,” said Paul. “And that’s what I love about him.”