EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Devin Booker goes into superstar mode, Suns win 5th straight vs. Kings

Nov 28, 2022, 11:12 PM | Updated: Nov 29, 2022, 7:15 am
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, right, looks to score a basket against Sacramento Kings forward KZ...

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, right, looks to score a basket against Sacramento Kings forward KZ Okpala, top left, in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas)

(AP Photo/José Luis Villegas)

Devin Booker, to his standards, had been fine in the last four games entering Monday night, all Phoenix Suns wins.

But actually, sometimes we’ve got to remind ourselves this is a First Team All-NBA guard we are talking about. The standards and expectations are higher.

If he fails to crack 30 points in four consecutive contests, it’s a safe bet that he’s going to in his next shot at it. More likely is a superstar performance like the one we got in a 122-117 Suns win over the Sacramento Kings.

Booker had 44 points, eight rebounds, four assists and six steals on 17-of-28 shooting. It’s only the second time in league history since the NBA started recording steals in 1974 that someone reached at least that stat line, and we gotta go back to John Drew on the Atlanta Hawks in 1978, per Stathead.

Booker’s points by quarter were 10, 11, 15 and eight. At one point in the third quarter, Booker had converted on 14 of his first 15 two-point attempts.

Predictably, in a game that was close throughout, the Kings’ defense pivoted and forced Booker to move the ball elsewhere. That is when he and his teammates systematically broke them down.

With Phoenix down three and under six minutes left, it scored on its next four possessions. One of those was a Booker touch shot and the other three were his own hockey assists. Two were Damion Lee 3s, as his ridiculous run in fourth quarters continued when he scored 11 of his 15 points in the final frame.

After Lee’s third triple of the quarter, the Kings took a timeout down three. While Lee would miss his next open 3, Booker assisted a Mikal Bridges dunk and Deandre Ayton layin on the following two possessions and Phoenix was up five at 2:23 to go.

Next time down, Booker drew two free throws and sunk ’em both before a hockey assist for a Bridges corner 3 was the dagger to put the Suns up 10 with 74 seconds remaining.

All told, it was 20 points on nine possessions, only one of which was an empty trip across 4:38 for a 16-9 run.

Phoenix’s (14-6) defense stepped it up just enough in the second half on a fairly uneven night. The Kings (10-9) had 22 assists on 28 baskets in the first half, and a handful of them were open shots at the rim.

Malik Monk got a few of them off the bench. The Sacramento reserve finished with 30 points and eight assists. Kevin Huerter dropped 18 points and Domantas Sabonis added 17 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.

It was definitely one of those nights Booker had to do some serious heavy lifting in across 41 minutes. Cam Payne had a rare off night with five points on 2-of-10 from the field to go with seven assists. Booker was  +14 while Payne sat at -10.

Ayton produced 17 points and 12 rebounds while Bridges provided 13 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocks. Ayton made a few key plays in the fourth quarter and Bridges was a defensive playmaker throughout.

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