Booker, Suns look to stay hot vs Lakers
The performance of All-Star guard Devin Booker is a major reason the Phoenix Suns are among the top clubs in the Western Conference. Booker and the Suns will visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday in a clash of two top teams in the Western Conference.
Booker scored a season-high 43 points in the Suns’ 118-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. He scored 21 points in the third quarter alone, allowing the Suns to take command with a 21-3 surge late in the third and early fourth quarters. Phoenix rolled to its fifth victory in six games and 14th in the past 17.
Booker converted 15 of 26 shots overall, although he made just one of them from 3-point land, with 12 of 13 free throws. His recent outstanding play provided NBA Commissioner Adam Silver with an easy decision to add Booker to his first All-Star squad and replace injured Lakers star Anthony Davis last week.
Booker is averaging 25.5 points per game and shooting 50.1 percent this season.
“The efficiency that he played with (Saturday), whether it was in pick-and-roll, midrange, he was in attack mode all night long,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “That’s just Book. He’s a complete offensive player. I just told him just now, 43 points, the way he scores the ball is not something I take for granted and no one should. It’s a gift and we’re certainly grateful for it.”
Deandre Ayton added 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting and 10 rebounds for Phoenix. Chris Paul recorded 15 assists to go along with 11 points.
“I was in rhythm tonight. I just want to give thanks to my teammates for staying on me on the defensive end,” Ayton said.
The Lakers were in sync in Sunday’s 117-91 blowout of the Warriors. LeBron James scored 19 points to lead six Lakers in double figures. James delivered his damage in a season-low 24 minutes as he and the Lakers’ starters rested the entire fourth quarter.
The Lakers dominated for practically the entire contest, building a 20-point lead after one quarter and increasing it to 29 at the break.
“I think our starters had a mindset to make sure we took care of business against a team that stole one the last time they were here and really came out motivated in that first quarter,” Vogel said, referring to the Warriors’ Jan. 18 win when they rallied from a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit.
Defense played a significant role Sunday.
The Lakers limited Stephen Curry, who averaged 29.9 points entering the contest, to 16 points. That defensive effort came on the heels of Los Angeles holding Damian Lillard to 11 second-half points after he scored 24 in the first in Friday’s victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
“The last two games we’re playing against players in Damian and Steph that require double teams constantly all night, so you really have to be active,” Vogel said. “I think the communication and the deflections (were) the two biggest factors for me.”
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