By Alasdair Howorth, CNN
Phoenix guard Devin Booker scored an astonishing 51 points in just three quarters as the Suns dominated the Chicago Bulls 132-113.
In just 31 minutes on the court, the shooting guard shot 20-for-25 from the field and went 6-for-7 from deep, making it one of the most efficient scoring performances in NBA history.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, he became only the second player in the last 25 years to score 50 points with 80% shooting accuracy in the first three quarters of a game along with James Harden in November 2017.
“It felt like a double-sized rim out there,” Booker said after the game. “If I rise up, it’s going in.”
The 26-year-old guard and center Deandre Ayton — who finished with 30 points and 14 rebounds — dominated the first half, combining for 41 points and giving the Suns a 21-point halftime lead.
In the third, Booker took it to another gear, dropping 26 points to kill the game off — shooting 10-for-11 in the quarter.
Booker was on fire despite the Bulls’ best efforts, ending the third quarter with a run of nine consecutive points including a dunk, a 29-foot triple and a four-point play.
After he had won the game for the Suns in the third quarter, Booker was pulled for the rest of the game, but he did apparently have the option to keep piling up the points.
“Coach [Monty Williams] tried to put me in when they cut it to 18 … I didn’t think it was necessary,” Booker said after the game.
Suns coach Williams said, “There’s not a level where he can’t score.
“He can use both hands, he can score with a hand in his face and he’s willing to take the tough shots.”
Bulls guard Zach LaVine, who finished with 21 points and seven assists, agreed, “A guy like that gets in a rhythm and it’s too late. He gets it going and it’s over.”
Booker now has back-to-back 40-point games after scoring 44 against the Sacramento Kings and is making his case as an early MVP candidate.
The win takes the Suns to the top of the Western Conference at 15-6, a record bolstered by a 12-1 tally at home.
“I don’t know how many sellout crowds that is in a row, but it’s impressive,” Booker said on the support in the Footprint Center.
“Mondays, Tuesdays, Saturdays, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is. They show up and show out.”
But much of that success is down to Booker, who in this game took advantage of slack Bulls’ defending to continue his hot streak and is now averaging just under 28 points per game.
“We threw everything at him,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said on Booker. “We trapped him, we threw a box and one at him. We tried to face guard him and to his credit had had a great night.”
Fans were chanting, “MVP! MVP!” after Booker sunk a three-pointer in the third quarter. It might be a bit too early for that, but if Booker keeps on racking up numbers like he did tonight, he will become hard to ignore as the season progresses.
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