Booker, Suns pull away from Kings late
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Devin Booker got hot when it mattered most, and the Phoenix Suns turned a tight game into a 111-101 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night at Golden 1 Center.
Booker scored 13 of his 26 points in the final 4:59. He made only five of his first 19 shots but hit four of his final six from the field, including a 3-pointer, and went 4 of 4 from the line.
TJ Warren also scored 26 points for the Suns and had 10 rebounds for a double-double. Marquese Chriss had 14 points for the Suns (14-23), who have gone 5-2 in their past seven games.
“There’s nights like that,” Booker said. “If you’re a high volume shooter, it’s not always going to fall for you. Missed a lot of shots I felt I could make, but I was really aggressive. TJ helped us out, really big scoring tonight. It was a team win tonight. We locked in late in the game. A lot of offensive rebounds and grinded it out so it was a good win.”
Zach Randolph had 14 points, leading seven Kings who reached double figures. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 13, and Garrett Temple, Skal Labissiere, George Hill and Buddy Hield each had 12.
Randolph, who had two points in the first half, scored 12 in the third quarter as the Kings (12-23) sliced a 55-46 halftime deficit to 88-83 entering the fourth. Frank Mason drilled a 3-point shot, giving the Kings a 94-93 lead with 8:47 left to play, and they extended their lead to 97-93 with 6:06 remaining.
The Suns ended the game on an 18-4 run.
Booker tied it 97-97 with a driving layup with 4:59 left to play. Warren put the Suns ahead 101-99 with a three-point play with 3:29 left, and Booker hit two free throws to make it 103-99 with 2:51 left. Booker’s driving layup and jump shot from the right corner increased the Suns’ lead to 107-99 with 58 seconds left. He added a 3-point shot to make it 110-99.
“He’s a special player,” Suns center Tyson Chandler said of Booker. “I’ve been saying that since the first day I played pickups with him. You can see it. Just some players that come into this league that just have ‘it.’ And they’re far and few in between, and he’s one of those players.”
Suns coach Jay Triano moved Booker from shooting guard to point guard for the final five minutes and let him take full control of the offense.
“I think he’s going to take over and handle it anyway,” Triano said. “We want him to do that. So the idea is to put shooters around him.”
Booker, who played his second straight game after missing nine straight with a left adductor strain, went 3 of 9 from 3-point range.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of keeping him off the 3-point line, but he did a good job of attacking our bigs on the pick-and-rolls,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said.
The Kings were coming off a 109-95 victory on Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers when they got 24 points from 40-year-old Vince Carter, who didn’t play against Phoenix.
“We have to come out and get up for each team no matter what the rotation is,” Temple said. “Everybody has to be ready for each game and get your mind right every time you step on the court.”
The Suns built a 55-46 halftime lead when Warren made his first six shots and scored 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting. The Suns outrebounded the Kings 29-17 and hurt them from long range in the first half. Phoenix made 6 of 13 3-point shots and the Kings went 2 of 12.
Booker and Chriss each scored nine points in the first half.
Temple and Labissiere had 10 first-half points apiece for Sacramento.
The Suns went on a 14-2 run to end the first quarter and built a 35-25 lead. Warren and Booker each had seven points in the quarter, and Dragan Bender had six on two 3-point shots to cap the run.
NOTES: Kings G De’Aaron Fox missed his fifth straight game with a partial tear of his right quadriceps. ... Kings F Skal Labissiere, who didn’t play the previous three games, made his career-high 13th start of the season. ... The Suns took a 2-1 lead in the season series with one game remaining, April 3 at Phoenix. ... C Tyson Chandler led the Suns with 11 rebounds and scored six points. ... Kings C Willie Cauley-Stein came off the bench to score 11 points and grab nine rebounds.