Suns’ Devin Booker shakes off slow start in return

Nov 2, 2023, 9:44 PM

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns...

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after a three-point basket during the first half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Footprint Center on October 16, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker made his return, and took his time to look like himself again, but nearly had a triple-double.

In the first quarter vs. the San Antonio Spurs, Booker was held scoreless, missing all three of his shots.

For a player who averaged 8.5 first quarter points per game a year ago, it was the first time since December 2019 he came up empty in the opening frame.

Kevin Durant picked up some of the early slack scoring 11 first quarter points, but the Spurs still led 39-20 going into the second.

Booker woke up in the second, hitting 4-of-5 shots, including two three-pointers, finishing his first half back with 10 points and four assists and one turnover.

At the half, the Suns trailed 55-75. Victor Wembanyama had his best half in the NBA, totaling 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting to lead all scorers.

In the second half, Booker adapted to a double-happy defense by going more into “point guard” mode, tallying a few more assists but still adding a couple more buckets.

When healthy, he likes to play the entire first and third quarters, and it was clear that his minutes restriction affected his rhythm, never playing more than six or seven minutes at a time.

Coming back into the game late in the third, the Suns cut the deficit to 15 when Booker attacked a 4-on-3 in transition, putting pressure on the Spurs’ defense before kicking out to a Durant corner three.

Booker nearly picked up his fifth foul defending a Tre Jones layup attempt, but head coach Frank Vogel challenged it and it was overturned.

Shortly after, he hit a pull-up three to cut the deficit to 14 and the Suns got a stop to close out the third quarter.

In the fourth, the first three minutes and change included a Booker layup, Booker and-one, Booker assist then Booker three.

Durant came back in to provide extra support as Keita Bates-Diop provided his best minutes in a Suns uniform against his former team. Suns tied it at 116 before the Spurs pulled away with 12 straight points.

Booker ended his night with 31 points (21 in the second half) on 10-of-19 shooting, 13 assists and nine rebounds in 34 minutes. With one more rebound, he would’ve had his first regular season triple-double.

Wembanyama finished with 38 points on 15-of-26 shooting with 10 rebounds and two blocks, the best night of his career thus far.

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