After 51-point burst, Suns’ Devin Booker seeks encore vs. Rockets

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Lauding efficiency can sometimes require a measure of subjectivity, for what is worthy of ceaseless praise from some doesn’t quite reach the benchmark for celebration from others.

What Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker accomplished on Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls isn’t bound by opinion. By every measure, Booker was extraordinary, amassing 51 points, six assists and four rebounds in the Suns’ 132-113 victory, and doing so with breathtaking efficiency.

Booker missed just five of his 25 shot attempts and only one of seven 3-point tries for the Suns, who will host the Houston Rockets on Friday riding a six-game winning streak. His otherworldly production came despite not participating in the fourth quarter, making Booker just the eighth player in the shot-clock era to record 50-plus points while logging 31 minutes or fewer.

“That’s just D-Book doing D-Book. I’ve seen it a lot,” said Suns center Deandre Ayton, who quietly posted a 30-point, 14-rebound double-double. “It’s a great performance. It was all in the offense as well. He was taking what they gave him, as simple as that. The dude was in motion, he was in flow, and when he’s on like that, it’s pretty hard to stop him.”

Booker excelling in these moments is nothing new, but the timing of his recent run of excellence bodes especially well for the Suns. Phoenix played its 11th consecutive game without Chris Paul (heel), and Booker has once again showcased an ability to maintain his scoring rhythm while also shouldering a heavier load helping facilitate the offense with the star point guard sidelined.

Booker is averaging 30.7 points and 6.4 assists during Paul’s absence. Paul will be unavailable again on Friday.

“I think all of these moments, opportunities, are going to help us in the future when you’re able to do this without Chris,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “It makes you think about the potential of our team as we move forward, and I think they would say the same thing.”

As for the Rockets, they posted consecutive home wins over the Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder late last week and a competitive first half in the opener of back-to-back road at Denver on Monday, but Houston dropped that game to the Nuggets and was uncompetitive in a 120-100 loss during the rematch on Wednesday.

The Rockets, who trailed by 27 points at the intermission on Wednesday, will continue their challenging four-game road trip in Phoenix, where they lost 124-109 in the first of three regular-season meetings on Oct. 30. Houston will close the trek against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco on Saturday.

Houston coach Stephen Silas has routinely promoted his team’s effort this season, despite the Rockets owning the worst record in the Western Conference. The players left him little room to applaud their performance following the debacle against the Nuggets.

“I haven’t been disappointed with our readiness as far as like attention to start the game pretty much all season — Milwaukee was another one,” Silas said, referencing a 125-105 road loss to the Bucks on Oct. 22. “Against teams like this … you can’t just ease into these games. You’ve got to come in with a defensive mindset, a hard-playing mindset, a together mindset.

“I was disappointed with how we began the game. If you start like that, it’s hard to win.”

–Field Level Media

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