Booker sank his first six shots and finished with 35 points on Tuesday, powering the Suns to their 11th straight win with a 121-111 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Booker, who averages a team-high 25.4 points and adds 5.5 rebounds per game, has chipped in 33.6 and 6.4, respectively, over his last five contests.
The success has not come as easy as it has looked.
«We have been having success with it, but I don’t think simple is the word. This league is not simple,» Booker said. «Guarding Kyrie (Irving) 1-on-1 is not simple. So it’s something you have to lock in to. It takes a lot of hard work and effort. But having those experiences that we’ve had together, it helps a lot.»
Mikal Bridges had 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting to establish a season-high point total for the second straight game. Chris Paul finished with 20 points and 14 assists to fuel Phoenix (41-9), which is off to its best 50-game mark in franchise history.
«What helps us is we just have a complete team,» Paul said. «You can’t key in on one or two guys. If people try to do that with me or Booker, Mikal can get hot…»
«That’s what makes us good. On any given night, anybody can get going.»
What’s more, the Suns saw the return of Deandre Ayton from a seven-game absence due to an ankle injury. The top overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft overcame a rusty start to finish with 12 points and six rebounds.
«I can’t lie, I was winded a little bit. Got my second wind in the third and fourth (quarters), and (head coach Monty Williams) really managed the minutes for me,» Ayton said.
Booker and Paul did the honors in their last encounter with Atlanta. Booker scored 38 points and Paul added 16 points and 13 assists in the Suns’ 121-117 win over the Hawks on Nov. 6.
The Hawks’ Trae Young, who collected 31 points and 13 assists in that Nov. 6 contest, was a spectator on Monday as Atlanta saw its season high-tying seven-game winning streak come to a halt in a 106-100 setback to the Toronto Raptors. The All-Star guard, who was scratched with a right shoulder contusion, boasts team-leading averages in points (27.7) and assists (9.3).
Kevin Huerter made all six of his shots in the first half and finished 9 of 12 from the floor — including 5 of 6 from 3-point range. Huerter had 26 points and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 18 off the bench to pace the Hawks, who lost for the first time since Jan. 15.
«I thought their pressure bothered us,» Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said. «We didn’t really get anything clean. We made some shots and were able to stay close, but I thought they established a presence with their defensive pressure pretty much all night long. And defensively for us, I thought we were back on our heels and they were in attack mode.»
–Field Level Media