PHOENIX – – Devin Booker joined an intoxicating company on Wednesday night.
The Phoenix goalie scored 38 points, topping 10,000 for his career, and the Suns beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-97 to end a two-game losing streak and tied for the NBA lead. .
Booker was 12 of 24 from the floor, rising to 6 of 12 in a 3-point range. He also had seven rebounds, five assists and two blocks.
Booker – at 25 years and 60 days – became the seventh youngest player in the NBA to reach 10,000 points. The others are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Tracy McGrady and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
âIt means a lot,â Booker said. âReally grateful to be in this position. I have a lot of praise for my coaches for trusting a young child and letting me play despite the mistakes because not everyone has this opportunity.
The Suns rebounded from home losses to Golden State and Memphis to tie with the Warriors atop the league at 27-7.
Both teams were deprived of several key players and their head coaches. Suns starters Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder and coach Monty Williams each missed their second straight game.
The Thunder played without goaltender Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (right ankle pain) and other starters Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Josh Giddey, who were already on the list of health and safety protocols. Coach Mark Daigneault missed his second straight game.
Oklahoma City were down 10 points after the first quarter but came back to the top in the third quarter. The Suns dominated the Thunder 30-16 in the last period, with Booker leading with nine points.
âWe kind of knew it would be like that against a starving team with guys who were thrilled to have a chance,â said Suns interim coach Kevin Young, replacing Williams.
âWhat you love about Book is that he’s a fierce competitor and he’s fearless,â Young said. “He took some huge shots tonight and to achieve that goal, that’s exactly what he’s doing.”
Ty Jerome, replacing Gilgeous-Alexander, scored a career-high 24 points for the Thunder, who lost in Sacramento on Tuesday. Aaron Wiggins had 22 points and eight rebounds, a team record.
âI was really proud of our guys,â said interim Thunder coach Mike Wilks. âThere were five, six minutes left and it was a two-possession game. We made it a tough game to do against a top team on the road. “
â(Jerome) was huge,â Wiggins said. âHis leadership has certainly been a huge factor in enabling us to compete. “
Oklahoma City was 7 of 35 (20%) on a 3-point range. Guards Jerome and Luguentz Dort were a long-range 1-for-13 combo.
âWe felt we had a great appearance tonight, a quality appearance,â Wilks said. âWe just couldn’t bring them down. “
For the Suns, JaVale McGee and Cameron Payne each scored 16 points, McGee adding eight rebounds and Payne adding seven assists. Cam Johnson finished with 12 points and Jalen Smith had 11 points and 14 rebounds, a career high.
âWe’re trying to figure it out, but we didn’t want to lose three games in a row, especially after the last one (last second loss to Memphis) it was tough for us,â Booker said. “We just need to get this train going.”
MIX THE BRIDGE
Since the Thunder played in Phoenix last Thursday night, five players have been put on the health and safety protocol list. This game was a victory for the Suns 113-101.
Forwards Darius Bazley, Alexsej Pokusevski and goalkeeper Tre Mann are also dropped from the Thunder’s COVID-19 list. These players scored 69 of the Thunder’s 101 points last week.
Center Isaiah Roby, forward Paul Watson Jr. and Jerome, neither of whom played six days ago, start in place of the sidelined trio. Derrick Favors, who was on rest last Thursday, played Wednesday’s game. Watson had 11 points and Roby 10 before committing a foul.
Wilks, who played briefly for the Thunder before becoming an assistant, bonded with Chris Paul when the Phoenix point guard was with Oklahoma City two seasons ago.
âChris is a great guy,â Wilks said before the game. âI see how he is with his family, in his community. The time I was able to spend with him was invaluable. We verify each other. He’s one of my favorites and one of the best pointers to ever do this.
Thunder: Giddey was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for the October / November games. He started 20 games and averaged 10.4 points, 5.8 assists and 7.2 rebounds.
Suns: Their start 27-7 is the second-best in franchise history out of 34 games. The 2004-05 team started 30-4.
Thunder: host New York on Friday night.
Suns: Play Boston on Friday.