Booker scores 58 points and leads Suns to huge comeback victory

PHOENIX (AP) — Devin Booker dribbled toward the 3-point line from the left corner with two Pelicans chasing him before getting up for an off-balance jumper. Coach Monty Williams wasn’t sure it was a good idea.

“I couldn’t pull off that shot,” Williams said with a smile.

But Booker can. And he did.

The three-time All-Star put on a show with one of the best games of his career, scoring 58 points to almost single-handedly push the Phoenix Suns past New Orleans 118-114 on Saturday night.

The Suns clinched victory just a week after losing twice to the Pelicans in New Orleans. Booker prides himself on being a team player and a willing passer, but on Saturday night he realized he had a hot hand.

“Once I get started a bit, shooting over a hand is good play,” Booker said.

It’s the second time this season Booker has topped 50 points — he scored 51 against Chicago at home on Nov. 30 in just three quarters.

This effort was even more impressive as it brought the Suns back from a 24-point deficit. The three-time All-Star made 21 of 35 shots, including 6 of 12 3-point shots. He added five rebounds, five assists and played the entire second half.

The Phoenix bench and the fans loved every minute. New Orleans? Not really.

“I don’t like watching someone score 58 points on us,” Pelicans guard CJ McCollum said. “It is not pleasant.”

The Pelicans led 83-59 midway through the third quarter, but the Suns used a 25-6 run to cut that advantage to 89-84 going into the fourth. Booker scored 20 points in the third, putting his team back in contention.

“It’s unreal,” Paul said. “I’ve had the opportunity to play with a lot of greats – Blake Griffin, James Harden and now Book. Sheesh, you just try not to get caught watching.

Phoenix tied at 99 with 7:04 left on Josh Okogie’s free throw. Booker scored 25 straight points for the Suns before Okogie’s two free throws, doing just about everything he threw to the rim as the home crowd roared.

The Suns were clinging to a 111-109 lead when Paul made a crucial 3-pointer with 1:04 remaining. Paul finished with 18 points and eight assists.

The Suns have won their second straight game while the Pelicans have lost three in a row.

Zion Williamson led the Pelicans with 30 points and McCollum added 27. Williamson had a solid game, shooting 12 of 15 from the field, but it was completely overshadowed by Booker’s performance.

“You have to give respect when it’s due,” Williamson said. “He set up a clinic.”

The Pelicans took a 34-27 lead after one quarter while shooting 67% from the field. McCollum had 15 points, making 6 of 7 shots, including three 3-pointers.

New Orleans extended their lead to 63-46 at halftime. Booker scored 22 points before the break on 8-of-13 shooting, but the rest of the Suns shot just 8-of-31 from the field.

“We couldn’t throw it in the ocean if we had been on a boat,” Williams said.

Booker broke the arena record, passing a Gilbert Arenas 54-point game in 2006 for Washington.

TIPS

Pelicans: F Brandon Ingram (left big toe contusion) was out. … Had a 48-34 point advantage in the paint.

Suns: C Deandre Ayton (left ankle) missed a second straight game. … F Cam Johnson (torn right meniscus), G Cameron Payne (strained right foot), G Duane Washington Jr. (strained left hip muscle) were also absent. … Missed 13 3-pointers in a row at one point during the first half. … Booker’s career-high is 70 points, which he scored against Boston in 2017. … Hosted a 42nd consecutive sold-out crowd.

FOLLOWING

Pelicans: Host Milwaukee Monday night.

Suns: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports




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