EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Devin Booker shines in New York again, Suns emphatically win 15th straight vs. Knicks

Nov 26, 2021, 8:32 PM
Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker (1) drives to the basket around New York Knicks' Alec Burks (18) during ...

Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker (1) drives to the basket around New York Knicks' Alec Burks (18) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, in New York. The Suns won 118-97. (AP Photo/John Munson)

(AP Photo/John Munson)

Watch out now.

The Phoenix Suns are winners of 15 straight after walloping the New York Knicks 118-97 on Friday. The longer the streak has gone, the more we’ve seen things come together that weren’t quite all there at the opening of the season.

One of those recent developments is the play of shooting guard Devin Booker. “Slow” starts are nothing new to him, as he usually takes the first 15-20 games to find that All-NBA-caliber footing and his scoring averages by month usually go up the longer the season goes.

Booker has still been really good this year, especially as a rebounder and defender, but it looks like he’s now located that stride as a scorer that we’ve grown accustomed to, contributing 30+ for the second consecutive game.

And leave it to an environment he feels comfortable in, Madison Square Garden, to keep that groove flowing.

Booker entered the night averaging 30.2 points per game and shooting 51.2% from the field in his six games at the home of the Knicks, and he upped those numbers on Friday with 32 points on 14-of-27 shooting.

“I just enjoy playing here, man,” Booker told Bally Sports Arizona. “I feel like it’s the history that goes behind this arena. You feel it in shootaround. If you don’t feel it, you shouldn’t be playing in the NBA.”

The seventh-year guard scored 21 of those points in the first half, and it was with the variety we’ve seen from him before where there is not one thing the defense can do about it.

As head coach Monty Williams pointed out postgame, Booker did all of that inside of the Suns’ system, which helped them stay in rhythm.

The Suns only needed a minor wake-up call in this one. After the Knicks’ Evan Fournier started 3-of-3 on triples and Phoenix trailed 19-15 a little over five minutes in, it closed the half on a 42-25 run.

That stretch was Phoenix Suns Basketball: a constant outpouring of ruthlessness with pace offensively and activity defensively.

Wing Mikal Bridges slips in perfectly to this style of play, and he’s at the point now this season where we can come to expect a game-changing shift out of him every game or two.

He was absolutely everywhere on defense.

The Knicks weren’t flat in this game by any means but they just couldn’t reach the Suns’ intensity level. Every time they inched closer, Phoenix met them there and smacked them back down. New York never cut the deficit to single digits in the second half and was held to under 30 points in all four quarters while the Suns produced 30 or more in three quarters, an effective representation of a one-sided affair.

Phoenix’s bench kept up its recent strong play. Cam Payne (13 points) and Cam Johnson (10) were both +14 while Landry Shamet scored eight points and JaVale McGee provided six.

All five Suns starters were in double figures. Deandre Ayton quietly had a great game when it came to the little things, ending up with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Chris Paul also had 14 points and added 10 assists.

Phoenix shot 13-of-28 (46.4%) from three-point range and had 28 assists to only 11 turnovers.

Bridges played 39 minutes, a tough break in the way the rotation worked out, as he will likely take the main assignment on MVP candidate Kevin Durant on Saturday in Brooklyn.

The Suns will end their four-game road trip against the Nets with that second game of a back-to-back against the team at the top of the Eastern Conference. If they get past them, it’s back home on Tuesday hosting the Golden State Warriors, the leaders of the Western Conference.

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