Sensational Booker leads Suns to Game 1 win over Clippers
Devin Booker registered his first NBA triple-double in Game 1 of the Conference Finals. Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard were out injured for the series opener.
The Phoenix Suns took a 1-0 advantage over the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Finals after a thriller in Arizona. Devin Booker had a historic night in route to his first ever triple double as the Suns take the opener 120-114.
Each team missing stars in the opener
The headline coming into the first game of the Conference FInals was the absence of two of the biggest stars in the league in the Sun’s Chris Paul and the Clippers Kawhi Leonard.
Paul is out with due to health and safety protocol after testing positive with Covid, while Kawhi remained sidelined as he continues to nurse a knee injury.
Devin Booker stole the the show with a career night in his first ever Conference Final game.
Both teams came out swinging, but neither team could pull away in the opening 24 minutes. There were nearly 20 lead changes in the first half, as the the balance seesawed back and forth.
With no Leonard, Paul George knew he would have to carry the the Clips in the series opener. George scored 17 points in the first half, and got some big help from an unlikely source to keep LA close before the halftime break.
Demarcus Cousins had played in just 12 minutes this postseason before entering Game 1 off the bench. Cousins scored 11 points in his first five minutes and gave the visitors a big boost in the opening half.
Payne and company make up for Paul's absence
The Suns were with out the heart and soul of their team, as Chris Paul was forced to watch from home. Cam Payne was the orchestrator of the offense, and led Phoenix to fifteen first half assists were enough to fill the void in the left by Paul’s absence.
The game broke open out of the halftime break, with the Suns pulling out to a seven point lead, the largest the of the lead to that point. The Clippers countered with a 16-2 run to pounce out to an eight point lead.
After 11 points in the first half Devin Booker came to life in the third quarter. Booker scored 18 points in the third as both teams made runs. The game was level going into the fourth quarter after each side had big runs out of the gate in the second half.
The Suns were able to pull out to a 10 point lead in the final minutes of the game, but the Clippers weren’t done. An 8-0 run led by Rajon Rondo brought LA back in the ball game in the last two minutes of the game, but Booker sealed the deal with an easy lay up in the final seconds to stretch the score to a two possession game.
Booker with his first ever NBA triple double
Booker ended the game with 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, logging his first every NBA triple double in the biggest game of his life. Deandre Ayton had 20 points and 9 assists. The Suns ended the game with 31 assists, 11 coming from Booker while Cam Johnson had 9.
George had a huge Game 1 with no Leonard scoring 34, while Reggie Jackson followed up with 24. Demarcus cousins was the only other Clipper in double digits as Leonard’s absence was noted on the defensive end as much as the offensive end.
Game 2 from Phoenix Tuesday at 9 pm ET
Game 2 is set for Tuesday from the Phoenix Suns Arena. Chris Paul will be out for the Suns, and we will await word from the Clippers on the status of Leonard’s knee.