Devin Booker scored a season-high 40 points, propelling the Phoenix Suns to a commanding 110-89 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in an NBA In-Season Tournament game. The Suns' triumph came despite the absence of their leading scorer, Kevin Durant, sidelined due to right foot soreness.
Booker's performance was a crucial factor in the team's sixth consecutive win, a streak that coincides with his return from a calf injury. Reflecting on Durant's absence, Booker acknowledged the challenge: “It's tough,” he said.
“You can't replace what he brings to the court. His scoring ability. His versatility on defense. It's going to take a lot of extra from everybody else”. His words underscore the team's need to adapt and step up in the face of key player absences.
The Suns' Team Effort and the Grizzlies' Struggles
Eric Gordon added 20 points for the Suns, while Jordan Goodwin and Grayson Allen each contributed 14 points. The collective effort helped offset the gap left by Durant and other key players like Bradley Beal and Drew Eubanks, who also missed the game.
The Grizzlies, led by Santi Aldama with 21 points and Derrick Rose with 17, faced their own challenges. The team struggled with injuries, including six rotation players, which led to the NBA granting them two 10-day hardship contracts.
However, the new signings, Shaq Harrison and Jaylen Nowell, saw limited action and did not score. Memphis' difficulties were further compounded by their home record, remaining winless at 0-7. Their top scorers, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr., combined for only 19 points, highlighting the team's struggle for consistency.
“We just need to be more on the same page,” said Jackson. “When you're down bodies, everything is a lot more critical”. The Suns, now 3-1 in the tournament, trail the Lakers in West Group A and await other results to see if they qualify for a wild-card spot.
Their performance against the Grizzlies, particularly in the fourth quarter when Goodwin scored eight straight points, demonstrated their resilience and depth. Coach Frank Vogel praised Goodwin’s performance, noting his improvement and contribution to the team's success.