Devin Booker Drops 70 in Suns Loss as Teammates Help Him Run Up the Score
The Boston Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns relatively easily 130-120 Friday night. Normally, this game wouldn’t draw many headlines, but it’ll be all the talk this weekend after the Suns’ Devin Booker dropped 70 points in the match.
70 points. That’s the most in a single game among all active players in the NBA. More than LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony’s career highs. Booker is one of only six players in NBA history to break 70. Michael Jordan’s career-high was 69.
Booker joins a list with Wilt Chamberlain (100, 78, 73, 73, 72, and 70), Kobe Bryant (81), David Thompson (73), Elgin Baylor (71), and David Robinson (71)—a pretty good set of names to be grouped with.
At 20, Booker is also the youngest player by far to accomplish such. The man can’t even drink legally, and he dropped 70 in a professional basketball game against one of the better teams in the NBA.
So, obviously, it’s quite the accomplishment. Booker credits Kobe Bryant, who dropped 81 on the Toronto Raptors back in 2006, with helping him establish the mindset to score as much as humanly possible.
“I seen an interview with Kobe; he said what separated him from a lot of people was everyone thought 30 points was a lot,” said Booker postgame. “He said he never set himself a limit, and that always sticks in my head. He said he’d score 100 if he could. So, he never had a limit; I don’t put a limit on anything. I want to be the best in life. In all parts in life, not just basketball.”
Bryant has been supportive of the 20-year-old NBA sophomore, giving him a pair of shoes with “Be Legendary” written on them last season and speaking with the rookie for 10 minutes after the Suns and Los Angeles Lakers met. Bryant tweeted “#BookEm #70” last night after the game.
“I think he’s fantastic,” Bryant said about Booker last season. “I think he has the right attitude. He has the right competitive spirit. I think his footwork is extremely sound. His fundamentals are extremely sound. Now, it’s just about him figuring out exactly what his game is and then he can go to that every single night and then make counters off of it, but he has the skills.”
Not everyone is as excited as Kobe, though. While the performance is certainly rare, many say that it isn’t special. 16 of Booker’s 70 points came in the game’s final 2:19 of the game as the Suns called timeouts and intentionally fouled the Celtics, not in an effort to win the game, but as a deliberate attempt to get Booker to 70.
The Celtics didn’t appreciate that. As the Suns celebrated history (despite the loss) in their locker room, Boston players took aim at the team for making a mockery of the game in a calculated effort to run up Booker’s total.
“It was weird what they were doing,” said C’s superstar Isaiah Thomas after the game. “I’ve never seen nothing like that, chasing those numbers. I don’t think anybody’s ever seen that. Continue to call time-outs, continue to foul when we’re up 15. But, I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do—get him the most points possible.”
And that is what they were doing. The Suns won’t deny that. But they had their own reasons for doing what they did.
“The way our season’s going right now, we’re kind of looking for something to celebrate. That meant a lot to see my veterans happy…You have to see the beauty in it. At the end of the day, history was made, and I couldn’t have done it without my team, so they’re celebrating hard.”
Suns head coach Earl Watson was slightly more confrontational.
“Do something about it,” said Watson postgame.
The real question now is, can Booker perform well against the Celtics next time the two teams meet? He now has a target on his head in Boston.