Devin Booker tops 50 for third game in row against Pelicans

April 2, 2024, 12:39 AM

NEW ORLEANS -- More than an hour after Monday's game ended, Devin Booker's night still wasn't done.

With more than 40 friends and family on hand from Booker's hometown of Moss Point, Mississippi, less than a two-hour drive from New Orleans, Booker stood near the baseline of the Smoothie King Center taking pictures.

The Phoenix Suns star was coming off another standout performance against the  New Orleans Pelicans in a 124-111 victory.

With 52 points, Booker joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to have three consecutive games with at least 50 points against a single opponent.

"Anytime you get named with Wilt, and it's happened a few times in my career," Booker said, "but you know you did something special."

Booker also had 52 points in the teams' previous matchup Jan. 19 in New Orleans. When the teams squared off Dec. 17, 2022, in Phoenix, Booker had 58.

That gives Booker 162 points in his past three games against the Pelicans, the most for any player in a three-game span against any opponent in the past 50 seasons. He surpassed the 158 points  James Harden had against the Memphis Grizzlies in 2019, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Booker said he "doesn't really have an answer" for his success against New Orleans.

"I just feel like I'm playing the same way," he said. "I mean, the crib is close. I have a lot of family in attendance. I grew up coming here. It's the first NBA arena I went to. So there's some history here."

Booker started out hot with a 24-point first quarter and had 37 at halftime as the Suns built as much as a 26-point first-half lead. They upped the lead to 27 in the third quarter before the Pelicans tried to make a comeback.

New Orleans, led by 30 points from Zion Williamson, trimmed the lead to as little as seven in the fourth quarter, but Phoenix held on for the win.

Suns forward Kevin Durant, who was on the court for Booker's 52-point night in January against the Pelicans, said he couldn't believe what Booker was doing.

"It was like déjà vu as it was happening," he said. "You look up, he's got 20 points in the first quarter. Then what I loved about it, everything was in the flow of the game from the start. Pin downs, catch-and-shoots, cuts to the rim, layups, going through pull-ups. That's the sign of an otherworldly scorer when you can do it in the flow of the offense like that."

Suns coach Frank Vogel said Booker was in attack mode from the start.

"If there was space at the 3-point line, he was looking to rise up," Vogel said. "If there was an avenue to the rim, he was ducking his head and getting to the rim and getting to the free throw line. So he was doing it in all ways."

The win pulled Phoenix within one game of New Orleans in the standings as both teams fight to stay out of the play-in tournament.

The Pelicans are the No. 6 seed at 45-30 with the Suns one game behind at 44-31. The teams meet again Sunday in Phoenix, but Monday's win gave the Suns the tiebreaker in the season series.

The Suns return home for a four-game homestand against the Cavaliers, Timberwolves, Pelicans and Clippers before finishing with the Clippers, Kings and Timberwolves on the road. It remains the league's toughest schedule down the stretch, but the hope is Monday's win can give Phoenix momentum.

"Our challenge now is to string together two in a row of those types of performance and then three in a row and keep it going rather than being inconsistent, which we've been at times this year," Vogel said.