Booker Scores 38 in Hard-Fought Battle with Celtics

by Cody Cunningham

Last season Devin Booker had his historic 70-point performance against the Celtics in Boston, and on Saturday morning, he returned to The Garden.

“I had no choice,” Booker said laughing when asked if he thought about his 70-point game. “You guys made me. This whole week I’ve been getting question about the game.”

The 21-year-old may not have scored 70 this time around, but he still put on one his best performances this season.

By halftime, Booker had 21 points and the Suns within just six points of the Celtics.

Devin Booker Goes with the Reverse Around Horford

The Suns continued their fight in the third quarter and took the lead following a Tyson Chandler alley-oop from Booker. However, the Celtics would go on a run at the beginning of the fourth quarter and took a 17-point lead with 10 minutes to go.

The Suns weren’t going to back down quite yet. Booker, Mike James and TJ Warren fought back offensively and with just over two minutes to go, another Chandler alley-oop brought the Suns within two as the score was 105-103.

“First half we fought, but got down a little bit,” Booker said. “We bounced back and kept fighting the whole game.”

A back-and-forth battle would continue for the next minute and a half and that’s when Booker did what Booker does best: deliver in the clutch.

He dribbled the ball up the court and launched a 26-foot three-pointer over his defender to make it a one possession game. It was 114-111 in favor of the Celtics.

With just 18 seconds left on the clock, Booker had to put the team before himself. As the Celtics inbounded the ball, Booker intentionally fouled Marcus Smart to stop the clock and give his team a chance. That was his sixth personal foul and he would have to spend the rest of the game watching from the bench.

“He’s just a competitor trying to win,” Head Coach Jay Triano said. “He knew he had five, but he also knew we needed the ball back and couldn’t wait. Time was running out and then the game is over.”

Unfortunately for the Suns, Smart would knock down the free throws and the Celtics would walk away with a 116-111 victory.

GAME RECAP: Celtics 116, Suns 111

Even with the Celtics putting so much pressure on attempting to shut Booker down, he still finished with a season-high 38 points to go along with his five assists and four rebounds. Booker said following the game that because the Celtics put in so much work defensively against him, it helped bring out his competitiveness.

“That brings it to the highest level when teams are physical with me,” Booker said. “I know I have to lock-in right from the start of the game. It’s a competitive thing and there are really talented guys over there.”

Warren’s 19 points and Chandler’s double-double (14 points, 18 rebounds) assisted Booker in the Suns hard-fought battle against the current top team in the NBA.

“We were playing the right way,” Warren said. “We played team ball. Everybody was getting good looks. We just had a couple mental mistakes defensively at the end, but I feel like we are growing. We competed and played hard. That’s all you can ask for. We’ll start to win those games as the season progresses.”

The Suns will continue their road trip as they travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers on Monday. Catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.