In a thrilling encounter at Madison Square Garden, Devin Booker's confidence and skill shone brightly in the final moments, clinching a 116-113 victory for the Phoenix Suns over the New York Knicks. This win, marking the Suns' seventh consecutive victory, was particularly notable as it came without their co-superstar Kevin Durant, who sat out due to right foot soreness.
Booker, well aware of the Knicks' strategy to force the ball out of his hands, was prepared for the decisive moment. Receiving the ball back from Jordan Goodwin, he launched a 3-pointer in the face of formidable defense from Knicks forwards Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.
"For a game winner, I'm feeling I'm taking that shot unless they super blitz me... But any soft pressure like that, I feel like if I raise up and I have it on my right side that nobody can really get to it," Booker explained to ESPN after delivering a stellar 28-point, 11-assist performance.
Strategy and Execution in the Final Seconds
The Suns' tactical discussions during a timeout were focused on getting Booker into a position to attempt the game-winner, despite the Knicks' double-teaming strategy. This planning paid off as the team executed their strategy flawlessly, setting the stage for Booker's dramatic finish.
Randle, reflecting on Booker's shot, acknowledged the skill involved: "Fading out bounds, 3-pointer over two people. You got to tap him on the butt and say, 'Good job.' He made a great shot. Not really much you can do about it." Although Booker didn't have an exceptional shooting night overall, going 10-of-25 from the floor and 1-of-4 from the 3-point range, his ability to deliver when it counted most was a testament to his skill and mental fortitude.
Eric Gordon, contributing 25 points, also played a significant role in keeping the Suns in contention throughout the game.
Booker's Legacy and Love for MSG
This game-winning shot holds a special place in Booker's career, ranking among his most memorable moments, especially given his admiration for Madison Square Garden.
"I'm a part of history now, it feels like," Booker said, emphasizing the significance of playing in such a revered venue. His performance not only showcased his individual talent but also reinforced the Suns' collective resilience and ability to thrive under pressure.