Devin Booker scores 52 points, with career-high eight 3s in Suns win

NEW ORLEANS — Devin Booker splattered all over the New Orleans Pelicans once again in leading the Phoenix Suns to a crucial and much-needed 124-111 win Monday night before a sellout crowd of 17,753 at Smoothie King Center.

Booker scored 52 points, with 37 coming in the first half, and hit a career-high eight shots from 3. He had reached six made 3s in 26 previous games, with the first being in his rookie season, before matching that number for a 27th game and finally surpassing it early in the second half against the Pelicans (45-30).

As big as the 3s were for Booker, he had five finishes at the rim in taking advantage of how the Pelicans were defending him. He had two straight driving buckets to keep New Orleans at bay after it cut Phoenix’s 27-point lead to seven with 2:28 left in game.

Bradley Beal followed with a layup to push Phoenix’s advantage back to double digits, 121-111, with 62 seconds left. Phoenix (44-31) wound up enduring a Pelicans’ push in going 3-2 in an up-and-down road trip:

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This was Booker’s third straight 50-point game versus New Orleans in joining Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to score 50-plus points in three straight games against the same opponent.

Last season, Booker blitzed the Pelicans for 58 in an 118-114 victory on Dec. 17, 2022, in Phoenix. This season, he cooked them for 52 in an 123-109 win on Jan. 19 before family and friends — he played high school ball in Moss Point, Miss., a little more than 90 minutes from New Orleans.

Booker splashed six 3s in both games. He returned to New Orleans in a shooting slump from 3 as he was 18-of-64 from deep in 10 games since returning from an right ankle sprain that sidelined him four games.

When asked about the rough stretch from 3 after Sunday’s practice, Booker said, “Just a bad shooting time. I believe in them.”

Frank Vogel wasn’t sweating it, either.

“Just a rare stretch,” he said. “I’m not worried about it.”

Then a little under two hours before the game, Pelicans coach Willie Green said he didn’t want to be reminded of Booker’s 58-point performance.

“Devin is tough,” Green said. “There is a reason he is one of the best. We have to do better.”

The Pelicans didn’t in a game with much play-in implications.

The Suns not only moved up to seventh in the West and trail New Orleans by just a game for the sixth spot, they have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Pelicans. The two teams will meet a third and final time Sunday in Phoenix during a four-game homestand for Suns, who have the toughest remaining schedule in the NBA.

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