NBA: Booker Drops 52 in Suns 124-111 Victory

Devin Booker had yet another monster game, dropping 52 points against the Pelicans on Monday night in New Orleans. It was the fifth-highest scoring game of his career and brought his team within a game of the Pelicans for the No. 6 playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Booker also became the first NBA player since Wilt Chamberlain to score at least 50 points in three consecutive games against the same opponent. The previous 50-point games were a 52-point outburst in Phoenix’s 123-109 victory over New Orleans on Jan. 19 and 58 points against New Orleans in a 118-114 home win over the Pelicans on Dec. 12, 2022. This was Booker’s 8th 50+ game in total throughout his career.

The win came after a 128-103 loss at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder last Friday. With the Suns at 44-31 and the Pelicans at 45-30 the rematch upcoming this Sunday could decide the race for the 6th seed. The team that ends in seventh will need to play in the play-in tournament to secure a playoff spot, so there’s a lot on the line.

Kevin Durant played a secondary role in the matchup due to Booker having a hot hand. He ended up scoring 20 points while Jusuf Nurkic added 19 points and 19 rebounds for the Suns. 

Durant mentioned after the game that the whole team knew that Booker was in form and made a concerted effort to get him the ball.  

The Suns were also impressive on defense, building a wall around Zion Williamson, the Pelican’s leading scorer. Although Williamson finished with 30 points and five assists, he wasn’t his normal efficient self, requiring 20 shots. Trey Murphy III was the only other stand out for the Pelicans, adding 21 points for his team.

Next up for the Suns will be the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night at home. The Cavs have been having a rough time of it as of late, falling to 4-6 in their last 10 games. They still hold the third seed in the Eastern Conference though but have the Knicks only half a game behind.

The Pelicans will also be at home on Wednesday, hosting the Orlando Magic. The Magic are right behind the Knicks in the playoff race in the East and will be hungry for a win to keep their chances of staying out of the play-in tournament alive.

Celtics Keep Rolling, Beat Hornets 118-104

The Celtics rolled over the Hornets easily, winning by 14 points 118-104 on the road. Jayson Tatum had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Sam Hauser added another 25 points with seven 3s. 

Kristaps Porzingis was good in the paint for the Celtics with 20 points and point guard Derrick White had 19 points and nine rebounds. The Celtics have now won 11 of their last 13 games.

Boston, who are now 59-16, have already clinched the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They are 11.5 games ahead of their nearest competitor in the Milwaukee Bucks and are considered heavy favourites heading into the playoffs.

The Hornets didn’t have much to cheer for, with Miles Bridges top scoring with 26 points and 11 rebound, while Grant Williams and Brandon Miller added 23 and 19 points respectively.

One of the big mismatches in the game were the Celtics domination of the smaller Hornets in rebounding, ending the game 51-40. Porzingis was able to live in the paint and collect a number of offensive rebounds leading to extra chance points.

The Celtics will have a challenging matchup on Wednesday night when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder, the top seed in the Western Conference. With the two best teams of each conference going head-to-head we might have a preview of the Finals.

The Hornets are stuck with the 3rd worst record in the East at 18-58. With not much in terms of positives, the team will be looking to the few bright spots in Miles Bridges and Grant Williams. Next up for the Hornets will be the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday at home.