PHOENIX SUNS

Devin Booker drops 40 points, 1st triple-double as Suns beat Clippers

Jun 20, 2021, 2:51 PM | Updated: 8:04 pm
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns competes for the ball against Rajon Rondo #4 and Patrick Beverl...
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns competes for the ball against Rajon Rondo #4 and Patrick Beverley #21 of the Los Angeles Clippers in the first quarter during game one of the Western Conference Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on June 20, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.

PHOENIX — The Suns found themselves in the danger zone during the third quarter of Game 1 in their Western Conference Finals series against the Los Angeles Clippers.

With point guard Chris Paul away from the team in health and safety protocols on Sunday, there was a momentum shift.

The Clippers answered Deandre Ayton’s big first half with a lineup switch, going away from small-ball and throwing center Ivica Zubac to match Ayton.

It gunked up what had worked for the Suns in the first half, but Phoenix’s remaining star guard came to the rescue as Los Angeles went ahead by as many as six points.

Devin Booker recorded 18 points and three assists in the third quarter, including a 16-point run all on his own.

Booker finished with 40 points, 11 assists and 13 rebounds in a 120-114 win at Phoenix Suns Arena to take a 1-0 series lead.

It was his first career triple-double, and he ticked over 10 assists on a transition alley-oop to Mikal Bridges with 2:35 left that gave the Suns a nine-point lead.

He went 7-of-11 from the field in the third, and aside from a pull-up three on the wing, all of his work came by attacking Los Angeles in the mid-range — it didn’t help the Clippers plastered Terance Mann, Patrick Beverley and Rajon Rondo on him over bigger wing defenders.

Booker’s barrage didn’t end there.

He continued attacking during the fourth quarter, with a semi-transition pull-up putting the Suns ahead 103-95 with 9:05 to play in the fourth quarter.

Booker scored 11 points and added five assists in the final 12 minutes.

He finished shooting 15-of-29 from the floor.

It overshadowed what appeared to be another dominant playoff performance from the Clippers’ Paul George, who finished with 34 points.

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