PHOENIX (AP) – Devin Booker joined some heady company yesterday.
The Phoenix guard scored 38 points, surpassing 10,000 for his career, and the Suns beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-97 to end a two-game losing streak and tie for the NBA lead.
Booker was 12 of 24 from the floor, going six of 12 from three-point range. He also had seven rebounds, five assists and two blocks.
Booker – at 25 years, 60 days – became the seventh-youngest NBA player to reach 10,000 points. The others are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Tracy McGrady and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“It means a lot,” Booker said. “Truly grateful to be in this position. I have a lot of praise for my coaches for trusting a young kid and letting me play through mistakes because everybody doesn’t get that opportunity.”
The Suns rebounded from home losses to Golden State and Memphis to pull even with the Warriors atop the league standings at 27-7.
Both teams were without several key players and their head coaches. Suns starters Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder and coach Monty Williams each missed their second straight game.
The Thunder played without guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (right ankle soreness) and fellow starters Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Josh Giddey, who were already on the health and safety protocols list. Coach Mark Daigneault missed his second straight game.
Oklahoma City trailed by 10 points after the first quarter but came back to take the lead in the third quarter. The Suns outscored the Thunder 30-16 in the final period, with Booker leading the way with nine points.
“We kind of knew it was going to be like that against a hungry team with guys who were excited to have an opportunity,” said acting Suns coach Kevin Young, filling in for Williams.
“The thing you love about Book is he’s a fierce competitor and he’s fearless,” Young said. “He made some huge shots tonight and to get that milestone, that’s just what he does.”
Ty Jerome, filling Gilgeous-Alexander’s spot, scored a career-high 24 points for the Thunder, who lost at Sacramento on Tuesday. Aaron Wiggins had 22 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
“I was really proud of our guys,” acting Thunder coach Mike Wilks said. “Five, six minutes left, and it was a two-possession game. We made it a game which is hard to do against a high-level team on the road.”
“(Jerome) was huge,” Wiggins said. “His leadership was definitely a huge factor in us being able to compete.”
Oklahoma City was seven of 35 (20 per cent) from three-point range. Guards Jerome and Luguentz Dort were a combined one for 13 from long distance.