Breaking News: Devin Booker’s elite PG play continues with career-high 15 assists, Suns beat Jazz….


Devin Booker’s supreme start to the season as the Phoenix Suns’ point guard continued in Utah with a career-high 15 assists in a 131-128 win over the Jazz on Friday, the first for Phoenix in the in-season tournament.

Booker has proven every season he gets noticeably better, and thanks to that development the two-guard has also grown into one of the world’s best point guards. So, with him actually playing the position this year and that guarantee he would improve again it seemed logical to believe this type of “breakout” if you even want to call it that was on tap for Booker in a full year of “Point Book.

He’s really seeing the floor in a way differently from most right now, knowing the way to shift the dimensions of it to get what he wants, which is just a good shot. He doesn’t care who takes it. He did so on Friday with just one turnover, channeling his own Chris Paul, becoming just the eighth player in franchise history with 15-plus assists and one or fewer turnovers in a game, per Stathead. Booker added 24 points.

Booker and Kevin Durant either scored or assisted all 14 of the Suns’ field goals in the first quarter and a tremendous game from Durant as well with 38 points (15-for-22), nine rebounds, nine assists and one turnover should have meant a dominant Phoenix victory given the offensive firepower.

But it was hard to get away from an adjective like lazy when describing the defensive performance in this one, as several open dunks, layups and 3s for Utah were via missed rotation by a Sun when they either weren’t moving with the required urgency or not moving at all. Utah’s in the running for having the least talented roster in the league but allowing that against anyone can let players get in a rhythm enough to maintain an offensive pace headed by two MVP candidates.

Phoenix (6-6) jumped out to a 14-point lead in that aforementioned first quarter but it ended with the Suns up just three and Utah (4-8) continued to hang around, aided by the good looks, eventually leading at points in the game.

With 3:12 left in the third quarter and the Suns down four, head coach Frank Vogel inserted wing Nassir Little into the rotation alongside Booker, Keita Bates-Diop, Jordan Goodwin and Drew Eubanks. The trio of wings specifically make their mark defensively and it was a great move by Vogel that located enough of a defensive spark to snap the Suns out of it. They quickly got back up by eight under two minutes into the final frame.

The Jazz kept scoring enough to stay within range before back-to-back Durant buckets put Phoenix up 124-115 with 3:11 left. That’s the type of edge a good-to-great team will normally use to put away the pesky bad squad but the Jazz roared back with eight straight in under two minutes to make it a one-point game.

Durant drew two free throws he made with 52 ticks to go, and after Utah answered with a pair of their own free tosses, he drilled a nasty pull-up 3 to effectively ice the game at 129-125 with 18 seconds remaining.

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