Devin Booker’s stats line for the first half of the Phoenix Suns’ game 2 against New Orleans Pelicans it felt like the production of an entire game.
Just like the logo that adorns his shirt, D-Book was on fire for the first 24 minutes of the game. He scored 16 points in the first quarter, including a hard knock at the end of the period, a moment all the sweeter for the once-in-a-lifetime punch he threw at a young fan.
At halftime, Book nearly doubled his point production, completing a spectacular first-half display with 31 points on 12 of 18 shooting, including 7 of 11 of 3. The Suns took a 61-56 lead at halftime, an edge that was crowned by another fascinating last-second photo of Book – this time of the logo.
But those numbers would remain the same when Game 2 went final, as Booker missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury. According to TNT’s Allie Laforce, Booker suffered a “squeeze” in his right hamstring, which she clarified was not a recurrence of the left hamstring disease he’s dealt with this season and which caused him to miss seven games in December.
Phoenix relinquished the series lead with a 125-114 loss, and Booker’s absence in the second half was likely the difference.
For Shannon Sharpe, Phoenix’s leadership is gone for one reason, and one reason only.
“You’re not winning without Book,” Sharpe said Wednesday in “Undisputed.”
“Monty Williams is saying, ‘We play all year with injuries,’ but there’s a difference between regular season and postseason basketball. Nobody’s trying to go to the postseason without their best player. You’re not winning. All-Star caliber player that he is. These guys don’t grow on trees. He’s the only guy besides [Chris Paul] who can go and get his own chance. Other than that, someone has to make it easy for Jae Crowder, Mikal Bridges, Deandre Ayton. He can also defend in CJ [McCollum] and Ingram. Devin Booker is that guy. It gets better and better and better.”
Devin Booker’s Injury Derails Suns
Shannon Sharpe reacts to Devin Booker’s injury and the Suns’ loss to the Pelicans.
Chris Broussard, on the other hand, believes the Suns still have a chance. According to the presenter of “First Things First”, however, they need to act quickly.
“They should be able to get past the Pelicans,” he said.
“But they’re not winning the West without him. They were 8-6 overall without Booker this season, and they haven’t really beaten any good teams. They’ve beaten the Magic once, maybe twice, so while they can outrun New Orleans, they won’t go far in the Western Conference playoffs without him. I think they air cautiously, and make sure they hit him as much as possible before bringing him back.”
“But they need an attitude adjustment. When Devin Booker left in the third quarter, the Suns were down. The Pelicans have nothing to lose. The Suns are playing as a team that is now understanding what it’s like to be hunted. .. Gather your transitional defense and start stooping so this series doesn’t get hairy without Devin Booker.”
Devin Booker Away, Pelicans Win Game 2
If Devin Booker’s injury keeps him out, Chris Broussard and Nick Wright explore the Suns’ chances of exiting this series with Chris Paul behind the wheel.
Things change considerably for the Suns without their scoring sage.
They are 104-31 (.770) when Booker has played during the last two seasons, and 11-8 (.579) without him. With Book, the team is averaging 115.8 points per game and 27.2 assists per game. He also has the best offensive rating (117.1) in the NBA in the past two years, with a +7.44 point spread on games he has played.
When he doesn’t fit in, the Suns cool off significantly, recording 109.6 PPG and 26.7 APG, with an offensive rating that ranks 25th in the league (109.4) and just a +1.58 point spread.
With a healthy Booker on his schedule, Phoenix can confidently book his travel plans for round two with little hesitation. Without him, well…
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