Isaiah Thomas takes issue with Phoenix Suns' late tactics

NBA.com Staff

Friday night’s box score showed that the Boston Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120. That was not the number reporters, fans or even players around the league were looking at, however.

Instead, Devin Booker’s historic 70-point performance stole the spotlight. It marked the highest-scoring game in Phoenix’s franchise history, the most points scored by an NBA player this season, and the most by any player against the Boston Celtics. Ever.

Those same Celtics, however, were far from impressed, and their collective shoulder shrug was led by MVP candidate and former Phoenix Sun Isaiah Thomas.

“It was weird what they were doing,” Thomas said. “I’ve never seen nothing like that, chasing those numbers.”

The 5-9 point guard, who currently ranks third in the league in scoring (29.0 ppg), held mixed emotions about his younger counterpart’s performance. His reasoning was two-fold:

Booker’s team lost

The Suns made clock-stopping efforts to push Booker to the 70-point mark even when the outcome was essentially decided

During postgame interviews, Thomas bluntly slapped his own perspective on what Booker did.

“We won the game. We’re worried about the playoffs, and they’re worried about the lottery,” Thomas said. “You’ve gotta tip your hat off to Devin Booker. I mean, 70 points in Pro-Am in some cities is a lot of points. Seventy points in any league is a hell of a game. It’s just how they did it at the end, and you can’t even be mad at the players.

“It was different.”

Thomas was especially bothered by Phoenix’s crunch-time force-feeding of Booker, citing Phoenix’s frequent timeouts and fouls in the finals minutes in order to stop the clock and squeeze out more possessions for their young star.

“I don’t think anybody’s ever seen that,” Thomas said. “Continue to call time-outs, continue to foul when we’re up 15. But, I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do – get him the most points possible. Hats off to him, though. He played a hell of a game.”

When Booker himself was asked about the Suns’ transparent efforts to up his scoring, he replied that it was something the 22-51 Suns needed.

“The way our season’s going right now, we’re kind of looking for something to celebrate,” Booker said. “That meant a lot to see my veterans happy…You have to see the beauty in it. At the end of the day, history was made.”

Phoenix coach Earl Watson had a more blunt take.

“It’s about letting our kids be great,” Watson said. “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”