Devin Booker outduels Jamal Murray in Suns’ Game 3 win over Nuggets
Devin Booker’s performance in Game 3 of the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets series was nothing short of remarkable. Booker was on fire, scoring 47 points and making 20 of 25 shots from the floor, including 5 of 8 3-pointers. Those numbers are unheard of – an 80% clip of field goals made is what you typically expect to see when a 7-foot center shoots three feet from the rim. However, Booker is a 6-foot-5 guard who primarily lives off of jumpers.
The only higher percentage attached to the result was that of Booker and Kevin Durant’s contribution to the Suns offense — they scored or assisted on 106 points, 88 percent of their total. Durant, who scored 39 despite not being as efficient as Booker, credited Booker with the win and said, “He’s been a high-volume efficient scorer since Day 1. We fed off his energy tonight.”
Nuggets coach Mike Malone was speechless after the game, saying, “Unacceptable. We were letting him walk into pull-up 3s.” As for Jamal Murray, he tried to replicate his performance from three years ago in the bubble playoffs, where he led the Nuggets to the Western Conference finals by approaching Booker-like scoring efficiency, averaging 26 points while shooting 50 percent overall and 45 percent from beyond the arc. Murray could not replicate that performance this time around, producing roughly half the offense despite having the ball just as much as two-time MVP Nikola Jokic.
Jokic’s stat line was nearly as eye-popping as Booker’s: 30 points, 17 assists, 17 rebounds. Murray’s, on the other hand, was not so impressive; he finished with 32 points on 29 shots, and only had four points in the fourth quarter. After the game, Murray said, “I put that on me. My teammates found me late. I’ve got to be able to execute down the stretch. That’s why it stings, personally.”
Does this mean the Suns are capable of pulling an upset over the top-seeded Nuggets even without point guard Chris Paul, who missed Game 3 with an injured groin? Only time will tell. However, if the Suns’ reserves can continue to play the Nuggets’ even and Durant and Booker can nearly score almost 90 points on their own three more times, the Suns may have a chance. They might need the Nuggets to repeatedly miss putbacks at the rim, as they did down the stretch, grabbing eight offensive rebounds but scoring only four second-chance points in the fourth quarter.
In conclusion, Booker and the Suns will head into Game 4, determined to even the series, while the Nuggets will need to bring their A-game if they wish to take home the championship.