Booker scores 45, Suns take Game 3 in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum (33) defends against Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker...
Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum (33) defends against Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) during the first half of Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Los Angeles, Thursday, April 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)(Ashley Landis | AP)
Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 10:10 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 20, 2023 at 10:30 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Devin Booker was getting buckets on Thursday and helped the Phoenix Suns beat the Clippers 129-124 to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference first-round. Game 4 is on Saturday afternoon. Booker scored 45 points on 18-29 shooting, adding three steals and two blocks. It was Booker’s 15th 30+ point postseason game, tying for second all-time in Suns’ franchise history with Amar’e Stoudemire.

The Clippers tried to come back in the fourth, getting within three points with 1:30 left, but Torrey Craig nailed a three-pointer. Russell Westbrook then missed a layup, and Booker later made a layup. Phoenix’s other star, Kevin Durant, scored 28 points, including 11-11 from the free throw line, which helped put the game away.

Norman Powell scored 42 points for LA on 15-23 shooting, including seven 3s. Westbrook added 30 points and 11 assists. It wasn’t a bad showing for the Clippers, who were without their top two stars. Kawhi Leonard was ruled out for Game 3 a few hours before tipoff because of a sprained right knee. Paul George won’t play in the series because he sprained his right knee on March 21. He continues to rehab.

The Suns needed all of Booker’s 45 points since the team’s bench only had 18 points compared to the Clippers’ 39. Bones Hyland had 20 points off the bench.

It was back and forth in the third quarter until Chris Paul got the steal on one end and then fed Durant for a monster dunk to push the lead to 79-66 with 4:53 left in the third, their biggest lead at the time. Booker had 34 points through three quarters, while Durant had 22. The Suns as a team scored 40 points in the third, their best quarter, just like in Game 2 on Tuesday.

Phoenix started the game 1-6 from the field but got out of that funk when Durant had a two-handed jam, and then Booker hit a three to give the Suns a 7-6 earlier in the first. But the shots started hitting for the Clippers, and they took a six-point lead. Both teams were tied at 27 at the quarter, with Los Angeles shooting nearly 59% from the field compared to Phoenix’s 48%.