EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Devin Booker leads Suns with season-high 48 points in win vs. Spurs

Jan 17, 2022, 10:42 PM

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams has always talked about not wanting his team to get in the habit of relying on scoring flurries from Devin Booker or Chris Paul’s fourth-quarter takeovers.

The way his group steps up even when they could potentially still win off those two things is a testament to his coaching job and how the Suns are a capital T team.

Devin Booker had a season-high 48 points, plus five rebounds, six assists and three steals in Monday’s 121-107 win over the San Antonio Spurs. But in a close game for three-plus quarters, Phoenix’s most important stretch came when Booker was resting.

Thirty seconds after Booker was put on the bench with 9:46 remaining, the Suns were down three. What came next was a 16-2 run over the four minutes Booker rested that completely overwhelmed San Antonio and put the Suns in the driver’s seat leading by 11.

The win was elementary from there for the squad that was on the second game of a back-to-back and was playing the day after a three-hour-plus flight out of Detroit.

Believe me, that spurt while Booker sat will be what he is the happiest about. Not the 48 that tied for the fourth-most points he’s ever scored.

He said as much after Friday’s win.

“I did the points with losses, and that’s not it,” Booker said Friday. “I just try to win basketball games. That trumps everything.”

“Everybody was a little fatigued. I could tell, including myself. And we just used each other as support to figure it out,” Booker said on Monday.

The victory on Monday makes it two out of the last three in which the Suns’ other players rose to the occasion in the fourth quarter after being carried through three. It was Booker and Deandre Ayton against the Indiana Pacers on Friday that did the heavy lifting before Booker and Bismack Biyombo did so in San Antonio.

Biyombo had a terrific outing, getting the nod over Jalen Smith for the backup 5 minutes with Ayton (sprained right ankle) ruled out. Biyombo had a season-high 17 points and 14 rebounds, eight of which were on the offensive glass.

“Man, Biz so solid,” point guard Chris Paul said of Biyombo. “It’s a shame he was out the league. It’s a shame because he gives you everything he has.”

Booker scored 41 of his 48 points in the first three quarters and the Suns really needed it, especially in the third period. The Suns had mostly put in a manageable shift at halftime before losing their rhythm on both ends of the floor, giving up a 35-28 edge in the third quarter and trailing by as many as 10. Booker contributed 16 of those 28 points and played all 12 minutes to keep Phoenix within range.

At the aforementioned three-point deficit before the Suns’ Booker-less stretch, Cam Johnson earned two free throws off a Chris Paul steal and knocked ’em both down. Two possessions later, Cam Payne drilled a midrange jumper and then a steal by Johnson saw him go coast-to-coast with one of his best highlights of the season.

After a Spurs timeout with Phoenix up five, San Antonio scored only for Paul to hit his signature middy the next time down. A Paul block led to a Payne lob for JaVale McGee and after another Paul jumper, Mikal Bridges got the Suns’ third steal in four minutes to create two more free throws he’d convert on to get Phoenix in control up 11.

Payne was a game-high +33 with 11 points and Cam Johnson added eight.

“Just looking at the bench production, that was one of the keys to the game … I thought it gave us some balance tonight,” head coach Monty Williams said.

Phoenix dished out 29 assists. Paul had a dozen of ’em with 15 points, two steals and two blocks.

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