Friday night, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker scored a new career high 70 points in the Suns’ 130-120 loss to the Celtics in Boston. Booker added his name to some elite lists in being one of the very few players to score 70 points in a game, while he set the record for being the youngest player to score 70, at just 20 years old.
An interesting way to look at Booker’s scoring explosion is to see how he did it during the game. The chart below breaks down Booker’s 70 points through 6-minute increments of the game.
As you can see, Booker erupted with 51 points in the second half, and from the six-minute mark of the third quarter to the end of the game, he scored 43 points in just 18 minutes. Here was Booker’s final stat line: 45 minutes, 21/40 FGs (53%), 4/11 threes (36%), 24/26 free throws, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 5 turnovers, 70 points.
Before diving into how Booker scored his points, it should be acknowledged that the Celtics were missing their best perimeter defender in Avery Bradley, who missed the game due to a severe stomach bug that required him visiting the hospital. Still, the Celtics have the 11th best defense in the NBA (105.3 Points Per 100 Possessions) and some of their other defenders like Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown did play in the game. Ultimately, the Celtics built a 26-point lead which put the Suns in a position to try to comeback, but Phoenix could never overcome the obstacle.
When you think of how Booker gets his points, observation recollections are usually of him being a spot-up shooter and pick-and-roll player who can make mid-range jumpers. However, Friday, Booker didn’t rely solely on his jump shot, as it was his ability to get to the free throw line that gave him 24 extra points.
Most of Booker’s points, 34.3% of them to be exact, came from the free throw line. In the film, Booker was very aggressive in attacking the defense either on the break before they could get set, or when he got a switch with a big, where he could take them off the dribble and create contact for foul calls.
Next, 25.7% of Booker’s points came from inside the paint. As mentioned above, he was very aggressive in attacking the rim, whether that was in transition or the half court. 22.9% of Booker’s points came from the mid-range, where he made some step-back, face up and pull up jumpers from different locations with different position-defenders guarding him. Lastly, 17.1% of Booker’s points came from beyond the arc, where he made four three pointers.
Here are a few other notes on Booker’s career night.
- Booker walked into the game averaging 20.9 points per game. After his 70-point outing, his new scoring average is 21.6 PPG.
- Booker displayed his off the dribble skills, as 57.1% of his made baskets came without an assist from a teammate.
- Per StatMuse.com, Booker broke the Suns’ single game scoring record, which was previously held by Tom Chambers (60 points) in 1990.
- Also per StatMuse, Booker became just the third player in NBA history to make 20 shots and 20 free throws in the same game. The other two are Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
- Per StatMuse, Booker’s 70 points are the most in the NBA since Kobe Bryant dropped 81 points back in 2006.
- Booker joins an elite list of six players to score 70 or more points in an NBA game. The other five members are Bryant, David Robinson, David Thompson, Chamberlain, and Elgin Baylor.
- Prior to Booker’s 70 points, Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors was the season holder for the most points in a game, as he scored 60 points back in early December.
- Before Booker’s 70 points, his career high for scoring in a game was 39 points, which he had scored three times before Friday.
With the loss, the Suns fell to 22-51 this season. Losing isn’t so bad for the Suns, as they currently own their 2017 pick that will likely come up in the Top-10 of the draft, considering Phoenix has the third worst record in the league. With several marquee point guards in the draft and with the Suns’ ability to open nearly $35.7 million in cap space this summer, it’ll be interesting to see how Phoenix builds next season’s team around Booker and some of their other young core pieces.