Phoenix Suns starting shooting guard Devin Booker recorded a record 47 points en route to his team’s 113-100 victory over the the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of his first round series on Thursday night to qualify to face the Denver Nuggets in the semifinals of the Western Conference.
Booker, who has ranked among the league’s best in the first quarter this season, has registered 22 in that span on 8 of 9 shots, including 6 of 6 on 3 points. His six trebles tied an NBA playoff record for most 3 points in a quarter.
Booker finished the game with a 15 of 22 shooting clip, including an 8 of 10 3-point mark, with 11 rebounds and three assists.
After the Suns took a 48-19 lead with 7:44 left in the second quarter, Booker helped the Suns fend off several Laker runs with key shots in timely possessions. He had 10 points in the third quarter and four in the fourth, which prevented Los Angeles from reducing their deficit to less than 10 points in the second half.
“We had a conversation after Game 3 about their (Lakers) defense so good and they move so well towards the ball, he won’t have another look after the first one shows up,” he said. Suns coach Monty Williams. “So that was the mentality we wanted him to have, and he’s a gifted goalscorer.”
Booker played 46 minutes – nine more than the Suns’ next closest player, forward Jae Crowder – but had no problem finishing the game, according to Williams.
“Players like Book have a determination about them, and I’ve said this about him a number of times: he’s not running away from the moment,” Williams said. “And in this particular moment, the moment was the whole game.”
Booker and the Suns will then face the third-seeded Nuggets in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. Denver beat the sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in six games to pass the first round.
Phoenix went 1-2 against the Nuggets in the regular season, although each of their losses came in overtime in late January, arguably before finding their team rhythm. Booker said the Suns will celebrate their first-round victory over the defending champions on Thursday night before turning their attention to their next opponent.
“This is just a series, and we still have a lot of work to do and this team here, these guys are tested in combat and they have been further than the first round,” he said. .
Here’s how Booker reacted to his first career playoff win.
On the emotions of winning his first playoff win with the Suns:
“It means a lot. Like you said, it’s been a long time to come. A lot of work, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of loss. But this is just a series, and we still have a lot of work to do. and that team over there, these guys are battle tested and they got further than the first round. Jae Crowder was in the (NBA) finals last year, so we’re not going to celebrate our first series like if we had won a championship. We know we have a tough opponent in Denver soon. I think the game is Monday, but we’re going to be catching tonight, catching a plane home, celebrating and going to Denver.
On when he felt himself get into the rhythm in Game 6:
“I was just locked up. To be completely honest, from the moment I woke up I struggled to take my pre-game nap out of excitement. I knew we treated this game like a 7. We knew we had to come in and we were stressed since we won the last game that we wanted to finish it here on their field.
On his post-game emotions when he looked up at the sky and put his hands together:
“Honestly, I was thinking about [Kobe Bryant] and the conversations we had, sort of about what we just went through, the playoffs and being legendary and taking the necessary steps to make it happen. So seeing that “8” and that “24” (Bryant’s numbers) up there with the way Staples (Center) lighting has right here, you feel like it’s shining on you. And I know he was there tonight. I know he was here tonight, I know he’s in the building, I know he’s proud.
On what his dad, Melvin Booker, shared with him ahead of Game 6:
“There are so many things. My father helped me a lot, especially in my basketball career from an early age. We have sacrificed a lot of hours and a lot of time in this sport. So I know he wanted that – probably the only person who wanted him more than me was him. Just “having a short memory” is one of the best tips he leaves to me and just go out there and compete. I’ve been to gyms with him, I’ve played on his team, I’ve played against him and he’s always competed at the highest level, and I think that has rubbed off on me a bit.
On the Suns’ resilience when the Lakers made runs in the second half:
“We have been tested. This group has been tested this year. (Starting point guard) Chris (Paul) has always preached to us throughout the year, “Those little moments during the regular season might not seem like much, but they can cause you to lose a game in the playoffs.” So just by hearing that in our heads throughout the game and hearing it repeat it today, you just understand that every game counts.
On how much his performance of 47 points validates the work he put into his profession:
“I’m not in the business of validating what another person thinks of me or what everyone thinks of me. This game does not define me. I have a family, I have very close friends that I talk to every day. And to me, my relationship with them is more important than anything anyone can say about me. So I have a tunnel vision of the goals I want to achieve, and if I sit down and worry about validating “Billy Bob” or whoever it is, it takes away my goal, and it m away from the goal at hand for me and my family.
When he started to focus on studying filmmaking during his career and how it helped him make in-game adjustments during the playoffs:
“I’ve been a fan of the game for a very long time, I’ve always been careful. I have always watched the games to the end, and not just the ones that are televised. I am faithfully on (NBA) League Pass. So I dedicated my life to this game, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But it got better – it got better during the playoffs. You hear about the playoffs in my first five years, people are like, “It’s all about adjustments. Each game has its own personality. Something works one game, they’ll take it off the next one. So just hear that and be a student of the game and watch the playoffs in the past and have a really good grasp of that.
“I think my first playoff series was a great testament to that, making adjustments and every game being totally different.”
Kissing starting center Deandre Ayton after the game:
“Having a conversation with Deandre and seeing the leap he’s made during this series, no one is harder than me on DA. And it’s been like that for a few years. So I know he’s had a lot. different voices in his ear between me, coach (Suns) (Monty Williams) and Chris, I know he hears a lot. But I just told him I was so proud of him for seeing the jump, and we still have a lot of work to do. We haven’t come into the season to say, “We want to win a series and be done with it. So we have a lot of work to do.”
To get started quickly with Crowder, he also hit several points at 3:
“Coming out, I think we communicated to the team, ‘We can’t be shy. That’s not how we got to where we are, the No.2 seed in the NBA. We just have to let it fly, trust the work we’re doing, and this group is working from the top down. I see him every day. And so I think when the coach told us that, I think it was before Game 4, ‘Let’s stop being shy. Let the ball fly, trust what we have worked on. And it worked well for us.