Wed. Jun 7th, 2023

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after hitting a three-point shot towards the LA Clippers through the first half of Sport Two of the Western Convention First Spherical Playoffs at Footprint Middle on April 18, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. Christian Petersen/Getty Photos/AFP (Photograph by Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Photos through AFP)

Kevin Durant might have been acquired to assist the Phoenix Suns get excessive, however Devin Booker stays the membership’s elite sharpshooter.

Booker will look to placed on one other show-stopping efficiency when the Suns go to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night time for Sport 3 of their Western Convention first-round playoff sequence.

The groups cut up the primary two video games.

Booker, who has spent all eight of his NBA seasons with Phoenix, scored 38 factors on 14-of-22 capturing Tuesday when the fourth-seeded Suns evened the sequence with a 123-109 victory. He made 4 3-pointers and added 9 assists.

Durant, enjoying his tenth recreation as Booker’s teammate, was content material to be the facet attraction, scoring 25 factors.

“He’s an all-around participant,” Durant mentioned of Booker. “He can do all the pieces at an elite degree on a basketball courtroom.”

Phoenix is 9-1 when Durant has performed since being acquired from the Brooklyn Nets in February. The loss got here in Sport 1 of the postseason when the Clippers posted a 115-110 victory.

Booker scored 26 factors within the sequence opener.

The fifth-seeded Clippers tried to disguise defensive techniques in Sport 1, and it labored when the Suns went 6 of 19 from 3-point vary and shot 47.6 % general.

However Booker mentioned there was higher recognition on Tuesday when Los Angeles was switching issues up on practically each possession. The capturing bears it out as Phoenix hit a scintillating 58.8 % from the sphere, together with 10 of 24 from behind the arc.

“I feel once they do this, we simply should simplify it,” Booker mentioned. “Plenty of issues that we haven’t seen earlier than, however they’ve a veteran staff that may do it on the fly. … So once they’re doing that, simply simplify it for us.”

Torrey Craig made it look easy for the Suns by pulling down 5 3-pointers en path to 17 factors.

Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns talks with Chris Paul #3 through the first half Sport One of many Western Convention First Spherical Playoffs towards the LA Clippers at Footprint Middle on April 16, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: Consumer expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or utilizing this {photograph}, Consumer is consenting to the phrases and circumstances of the Getty Photos License Settlement. Christian Petersen/Getty Photos/AFP (Photograph by Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Photos through AFP)

One difficulty for the Suns is the situation of veteran level guard Chris Paul, who underwent X-rays on his proper hand after Tuesday’s recreation. The X-rays have been detrimental, and he wasn’t listed on the Wednesday harm report.

Phoenix backup level guard Cameron Payne (decrease again) has but to play within the sequence, he’s thought-about questionable to see motion in Sport 3.

Los Angeles’ final factors in Sport 2 got here with 3:13 left within the fourth quarter earlier than Phoenix scored the ultimate eight factors.

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue wasn’t dismayed, as he feels his staff is on equal footing with the Suns regardless of not having star ahead Paul George (knee), who might be out once more on Thursday.

“We predict we are able to win this sequence, and in order that’s the largest factor,” Lue mentioned. “A hundred percent of the battle is believing, and we consider we are able to do it.”

Russell Westbrook, who made a stellar late-game defensive play in Sport 1 to guard a Clippers victory, scored 28 factors on 9-of-16 capturing in Sport 2. He had simply 9 factors on 3-of-19 capturing within the opener.

Westbrook felt the Los Angeles protection had some lapses in Sport 2.

“Plenty of them (Tuesday) have been extensive open that we didn’t get an opportunity to contest them,” Westbrook mentioned. “In the event that they’re capturing, that’s effective, however we’ve simply acquired to verify we’re contesting and ensuring we’re within the imaginative and prescient to make these slightly extra harder than regular.”

Clippers ahead Kawhi Leonard scored 38 factors in Sport 1 and adopted up with 31 in Sport 2. Leonard was 3 of 5 from 3-point vary in each video games.

He additionally was glad to depart Phoenix with a cut up and stays inspired about Sport 3.

“Simply acquired to do a greater job defensively and see if they will miss,” Leonard mentioned.

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