Suns guard Devin Booker was a human torch in Games 3 and 4 of the team’s second round series vs. Denver, pouring in a total of 83 points on 34-of-43 (79.1%) shooting in a pair of home victories. But he looked human in Game 5 on Tuesday, writes Doug Haller of The Athletic, making just 8-of-19 shots en route to 28 points.
Booker, who has played at least 40 minutes in every one of the Suns’ 10 playoff games so far, dismissed the idea that the workload – and the Denver altitude – was negatively impacting him, per Haller. He also shrugged off an awkward-looking fall where he seemed to roll his ankle.
While head coach Monty Williams has expressed a desire to manage Booker’s minutes to some extent, he suggested on Tuesday that the Nuggets’ defense was probably more to blame than fatigue for his star guard’s dip in shooting efficiency.
“They ran two or three guys at Kevin (Durant) and Book tonight,” Williams said. “That means other guys got to be able to knock down shots. I thought Terrence (Ross) hit a few, but we just didn’t get enough production on the back side of our offense to help Kevin and Book.”
Here’s more on the Suns:
- Facing a 3-2 deficit, Phoenix would love to have starting point guard Chris Paul (groin) back for an elimination game on Thursday. Asked last night by Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link) about the possibility of returning for Game 6, Paul replied, “We’ll see. I’m trying to.”
- As MacMahon details at ESPN.com, Durant downplayed a brief on-court altercation that occurred during the third quarter of Tuesday’s game when Nikola Jokic and Bruce Brown approached the Suns’ huddle. Brown and Durant, who shoved Jokic away from Phoenix’s bench (video link), received double technicals for the incident, which didn’t escalate any further. “It wasn’t anything serious,” Durant said. “They were excited. They was up big, and we were trying to draw some stuff up. And you know how that goes. I don’t think it was nothing.”
- Suns forward Torrey Craig published a cryptic tweet after Tuesday’s loss, posting a graphic that reads, “Understand that not everything is meant to be understood.” It’s probably safe to assume that Craig’s tweet has something to do with his declining role — after starting all five games of Phoenix’s first-round series, he has fallen out of the rotation in round two, playing fewer than eight total minutes in the last three contests.
- Deandre Ayton took a hard hit to his ribs during the first quarter of Tuesday’s loss (video link) and was clearly in pain later in the night, wearing a bandage over his lower right rib cage as he spoke to reporters, writes Dana Scott of The Arizona Republic. However, Ayton remained in the game and is confident the injury won’t be an issue on Thursday. “I won’t feel this at all. The adrenaline will definitely carry me,” he said. “We’re very confident. At the end of the day, our fans are gonna make sure that we do the right thing and just make sure that we handle business at home.”