Booker Scores 20 Points as Suns Offense Struggles in Loss to Celtics

Devin Booker
by Cody Cunningham

The Phoenix Suns opened up their first game of a back-to-back as they tipped-off against the Boston Celtics on Monday night.

However, the Suns lineup took a hit just minutes before the game began as it was announced that they would be without starting point guard Ricky Rubio due to back spasms. Instead, Jevon Carter took the place of the Suns lead signal caller after playing just minimal minutes over the previous three games.

Carter’s impact was felt almost immediately as he chased down and blocked Jaylen Brown on a fast break just thirty seconds into the game. It was clear early on that it was going to be a tough, grind-it-out, defensive game as neither team scored a second field goal until three minutes into the first, as Kelly Oubre Jr. knocked down a three to put the Suns up 6-2.

The Suns led by as many as seven points in the first quarter, but the Celtics battled to claim a four-point lead entering the second. The Celtics continued their push through the second quarter as their lead continued to grow. The Suns had one of their lowest scoring quarters of the season with just 20 points in the second as the Celtics took advantage of the Suns’ shots not falling. By halftime, the Celtics already had three players in double-digits and led 57-42.

Devin Booker stepped up for the Suns in the third quarter, scoring nine points, but the Suns couldn’t close in on the deficit as both teams scored 23 points in the third and the Suns remained down by 15. Ultimately, it was just not the Suns night as without their starting point guard in Rubio and center in Deandre Ayton, the team struggled shooting from the field and fell to the Celtics 99-85. 

TOP PERFORMERS

Devin Booker: 20 points, 7-13 FG, 2-4 3P, 4 assists

Kelly Oubre Jr.: 15 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal

Dario Šarić: 9 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals

Aron Baynes: 9 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal

KEY STATS

The Suns forced the Celtics into their season high of 17 turnovers (prev. 15 Sunday night at Sacramento).

Booker is averaging 25.0 points on 53.7 FG%, 50.0 3P% and 94.7 FT%. In NBA history, Booker joins Boston legend Larry Bird (25.8 points on 53.3 FG%, 50.0 3P%, 97.2 FT% thru 12 games in 1987-88) as the only two players to average 25+ points on shooting splits of at least 50/50/90 through a player’s first 12 games of a season.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

COACH MONTY WILLIAMS ON THE LOSS: “Ricky not playing hurt us, but we did not play our kind of basketball tonight. You got to make shots to get an assist, I said that before the game, but the ball movement was not there. We only had 22 (assists) for the game and that’s not us. We haven’t had 20 point quarters all year, we had two tonight. It’s a great learning experience for us. We have an identity and one of those components is sharing the ball, and when we move the ball and have player movement, we’re pretty good.”

ARON BAYNES: “We just have to be better at sticking to what we do. We didn’t look like ourselves tonight. The best thing about this league is we have another one tomorrow to come out and do it the right way this time, so that’s what we’ll be focused on.”

WHAT’S NEXT 

The Suns will hit the road for their second night of a back-to-back as they tip-off against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. Be sure to catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.

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