Devin Booker scores franchise-record 70 points in loss to Celtics
At one moment in the Phoenix Suns’ 130-120 loss to the Boston Celtics, the Boston crowd began to boo after the referees ruled Devin Booker’s three-point shot would not count.
That, among many other things, was a sign that history was happening in Boston.
Booker scored a franchise-record 70 points, obliterating his previous career-high of 39, a mark he reached after three quarters.
The game shifted quickly in the fourth quarter from a player buffing up his numbers on the team everyone knew was going to come out with a loss to a spectacle that everyone watching had to put everything else on pause for to fully appreciate the moment.
The Boston crowd began to “ooh!” at everything Booker was doing in the quarter before emphatically reacting to every miss or make by the 20-year-old in the last few minutes.
“This doesn’t happen very often especially against a really good defensive team like the Boston Celtics,” Booker said. “It’s a zone. It’s kind of hard to explain. I’ve been in those zones before, but never to this extent.”
Booker’s 70-point performance is the 11th in NBA history and the first since Kobe Bryant scored 81 on the Raptors in 2006. He’s the sixth player in NBA history to reach the mark.
— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) March 25, 2017
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 25, 2017
No player under the age of 21 had ever scored more than 56 points prior to Booker’s explosion.
After the game, Booker joined Fox Sports Arizona’s postgame show to discuss the remarkable feat.
“Doing it here in Boston, with some of the best fans in the NBA, it was a great moment for me,” Booker said.
Twitter was in pandemonium, with many basketball fans swapping over from the hyped-up Sweet 16 matchup between UCLA and Kentucky to see how many points Booker would end up with.
Devin Booker is covered in flames right now.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) March 25, 2017
wait devin booker did WHAT
— Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) March 25, 2017
What book just did was unreal man
— Archie Goodwin (@A1Laflare10) March 25, 2017
Devin Booker now has a higher career high than Michael Jordan
— Radiated Boartrarian (@basquiatball) March 25, 2017
That boy D Booker just got 70 😳… 👏🏽👏🏽
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) March 25, 2017
He was consistently scoring over the course of the game, putting up 10 of the team’s 16 points in the first quarter. He would score 32 points in the next two quarters combined and then 28 in the final period.
This was not just a selfish effort of chasing points, by the way.
Booker had eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block in addition to his 70, playing 45 minutes on the night. He took 40 field goal attempts, going 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The most remarkable stat may be Booker reaching 70 with only four three-point field goals.
There was controversy, however, after head coach Earl Watson called timeouts and fouled when the game was essentially over in order to give Booker more time and rest.
Watson said it was about letting his young players be great.
"It’s about letting our kids be great. You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.” pic.twitter.com/j344RQVftz
— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) March 25, 2017
Booker put more of an emphasis on what the moment meant for the team going through a rough season.
He also said he understands where some of the frustration is coming from.
Booker said he knew some Cs weren't happy about late-game fouls and timeouts: "Which I understand. We were trying to run up my points."
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) March 25, 2017
Former Sun Isaiah Thomas also spoke on Watson’s moves late.
“It was weird what they were doing,” Thomas said. “I’ve never seen anything like that. It is what it is. … But I mean it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him the most points possible. Hats off to him. He played a hell of a game.”
Booker did everything he could to give the Suns a win, but at the end of the day, a shorthanded roster against one of the best teams in the league was going to struggle mightily picking up a win on the road to snap the losing streak.
He emphasized that after the game when asked what’s next.
“Start winning, but playing a really good team, a playoff team like the Boston Celtics, it’s tough sometimes,” Booker said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.