Strong response from Devin Booker, Suns not enough to beat Bucks

Feb 26, 2023, 12:31 PM | Updated: 1:48 pm
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns dribbles the ball against Grayson Allen #12 of the Milwaukee Bu...
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns dribbles the ball against Grayson Allen #12 of the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half of the game at Fiserv Forum on February 26, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

A terrific response in the second half from Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns against the Milwaukee Bucks still wasn’t enough in a 104-101 loss on Sunday.

A physical game awoke Booker and Chris Paul in the second half after they both struggled to shoot the ball in the first half. The duo combined for 20 of the Suns’ 28 points in the third quarter and continued to lead the charge in the fourth quarter when the Suns got up by as many as eight.

Booker was 2-of-10 in the first half but finished 9-of-21 for 24 points with eight assists. In a two-point game with under 40 seconds remaining, Booker tied it on a difficult shot over Jrue Holiday.

After the Bucks answered to go back up two, though, Booker turned it over going at Holiday again. Milwaukee made only one of two free throws but the second miss went off a Suns player out of bounds and gave the Bucks more free throws.

Paul added 18 points and seven assists.

Those two got back in the mix more prominently after excellent efforts from Torrey Craig, Josh Okogie and Deandre Ayton kept Phoenix within striking distance for the first half.

Phoenix had 19 offensive rebounds, getting six from Craig, four via Okogie and Ayton grabbed three more. That trio combined for 28 total rebounds and Ayton produced 22 points as well.

Holiday was tremendous on both ends, scoring a game-high 33 points and 22 in the second half.

Phoenix was without Kevin Durant (right knee MCL sprain) while a right quad contusion kept out Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The matchup also was the first time former Suns forward Jae Crowder faced Phoenix since he was a part of the Durant trade. Crowder was rerouted to Milwaukee, where he made his season debut on Friday.

Crowder, who is expected to start for the Bucks once he gets more acclimated, came off the bench and had seven points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal. He hit back-to-back clutch 3-pointers during an 8-2 Bucks run that tied the game with over three minutes remaining.

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