Booker Drops 44 Points as Suns Beat Pelicans in Overtime Thriller

by Cody Cunningham

On March 16, 2019, Devin Booker dropped 40 points while leading the Phoenix Suns to an overtime victory in New Orleans against the Pelicans. It was almost déjà vu on Thursday as the young star once again dominated in another overtime thriller in the Big Easy.

Both teams started the game scorching hot from the field as the Suns and Pelicans each shot nearly 60 percent in the first quarter. Booker and Frank Kaminsky combined for 21 points in the opening frame, but trailed by two as the Pelicans took a 40-38 lead into the second.

Cam Johnson continued his strong start to his rookie season as he led the way for the Suns offensively in the second quarter. He scored 10 points in the quarter and 13 points in the half on 5-of-7 shooting and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.

Ricky Rubio’s playmaking (10 assists in the first half) and defense (three steals) mixed with the offensive production of Booker, Johnson and Kaminsky helped the Suns regain the lead and take a 74-70 lead into halftime.

The Suns were already shooting 62.2 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from three, but somehow managed to come out of halftime with even more firepower. Phoenix opened up the third on a 16-3 run and Booker began to completely takeover.

Threes, dunks, layups, it didn’t matter. However Booker wanted to score, he was going to get it done and no one could stop him defensively. The 23-year-old dropped 21 points in just the third quarter as he assisted in extending the Suns lead to 16 entering the fourth.

This was Booker’s 10th 20-point quarter in his career. Since the 2016-17 season, only James Harden (17) and Stephen Curry (12) have had more.

While Booker’s 21 points matched the entire Pelicans scoring in the third quarter (21 points), he wasn’t quite done yet.

The Pelicans began their comeback in the fourth, but it took just one more bucket by Booker in to notch his 11th-career 40-point game. In less than a calendar year, Booker hit the 40-point mark twice in New Orleans and the only thing this game was missing to resemble his 40-point game in March was overtime.

That was until the Pelicans went on an 8-0 run to close out the fourth quarter and send the game to overtime.

Due to his 40-piece, the Pelicans played Booker much tighter in the extra minutes, but that only opened up the floor for Rubio to run the offense. Rubio and Kaminsky combined for nine points and outscored the Pelicans (7 points) on their own in final fream.

The game was sealed on the defensive end as Kelly Oubre Jr. chased down Lonzo Ball on a fast break, swatted away his attempt and regained possession for the Suns with a minute remaining up by six. The Suns ultimately closed out the victory with a 139-132 victory over the Pelicans.

While Booker’s 44 points were impressive, his play went above and beyond just his scoring outburst. Booker neared a triple-double as he tallied 9 assists, 8 rebounds and 2 steals in the win.

“He was locked-in,” Cam Johnson said about Booker. “That’s what he does. He’s a scorer.”

Kaminsky led the Suns in scoring the night prior and followed that up with another solid game against the Pelicans scoring 20 points with 6 rebounds and 2 steals.

With Deandre Ayton and Aron Baynes both out for the game, Kelly Oubre Jr. showed off his work on the glass with a career-high 15 rebounds to go along with a career-high four blocks. He also scored 14 points with 3 steals.

Rubio’s playmaking was critical for the Suns all night as he notched a season-high 15 assists and tied a season-high 4 steals to go along with his 13 points and 6 rebounds.

Cam Johnson was lights-out in the second unit scoring 18 points, including 4 three-pointers, with 6 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block. Johnson became the first rookie in franchise history to knock down at least four three-pointers in back-to-back games.

“We’ve got to take this momentum and keep it going,” Johnson said. “Every win we get, we savor it and use as motivation to get the next one.”

The Suns will close-out their four-game road trip as the team travels to Houston to tip-off against the Rockets on Saturday. Be sure to catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.

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