Booker hears ‘MVP’ chants after 51-point outburst
Devin Booker torched the Chicago Bulls for a season-high 51 points in just three quarters as the Phoenix Suns stretched their winning streak to six games with a 132-113 victory on Wednesday night.
Booker scored 25 points in the first half and had 26 more in a sublime third quarter. After a contested 3-pointer splashed through the net, “MVP! MVP!” chants broke out across Footprint Arena, and the 26-year-old is certainly making an early-season case.
“It’s the best,” Booker said about the home crowd. “I don’t know how many sellout crowds that is in a row, but it’s impressive. Mondays, Tuesdays, Saturdays, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is. They show up and show out.”
The two-time All-Star had a steal late in the third before sprinting downcourt and flushing home a dunk for his 50th and 51st points. He added six assists and four rebounds.
“A guy like that gets in a rhythm and it’s too late,” Bulls guard Zach LaVine said. “He gets it going and it’s over.”
Booker didn’t play in the fourth quarter with the Suns holding a healthy lead.
Even more remarkable than Booker’s point total was his efficiency. He shot 20-of-25 from the field, going 6-of-7 from 3-point range. He is the second player over the past 25 years with 50 points and 80% shooting through the first three quarters of a game, joining James Harden in 2017, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“It felt like a double-sized rim out there,” Booker said. “If I rise up, it’s going in.”
Booker now has four career 25-point quarters, tied with Kobe Bryant for second most over the past 25 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Info research. Only Stephen Curry has more than Booker with eight.
“There’s not a level where he can’t score,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “He can use both hands, he can score with a hand in his face and he’s willing to take the tough shots.”
It was Booker’s second straight 40-point game. He had 44 in a victory at Sacramento on Monday night. The Suns have the best record in the Western Conference at 15-6 and have won 12 out of 13 home games.
The Bulls struggled on defense the entire night, particularly against Booker and Deandre Ayton. Chicago coach Billy Donovan was particularly irritated in the third quarter, angrily calling a timeout after Phoenix scored a couple of easy buckets.
DeMar DeRozan led Chicago with 29 points. LaVine added 21.
The Suns took a 64-43 lead at halftime. Booker roasted the Bulls with 25 points before the break, repeatedly finding open midrange jump shots.
“We threw everything at him,” Donovan said. “We trapped him, we threw a box-and-one at him. We tried to face guard him, and to his credit, he had a great night.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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