NBA

'Professional scorer' Booker steps up as Suns beat Grizzlies without injured Durant

By Sports Desk November 25, 2023

Phoenix Suns head coach Frank Vogel described Devin Booker as a "professional scorer" as he stepped up in Kevin Durant's absence on Friday, starring in a 110-89 road victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The In-Season Tournament game was the first Durant has missed all season, with Phoenix's leading scorer complaining of soreness in his right foot before the game.

However, the Suns made light of his absence as Booker stepped up with a season-high 40 points, while Eric Gordon added 20 as Phoenix extended its winning streak to six games.

Asked about Booker's efforts in the aftermath of the win, which took Phoenix to 3-1 in the tournament, Vogel said: "The guy's just a professional scorer. He is a big reason we are having this six-game win streak."

With Phoenix waiting to see how Durant's condition develops, Booker says it will be difficult for the team to replace his contribution.

"It's tough", Booker 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."

With the Los Angeles Lakers winning Group A of the In-Season tournament with a 4-0 record, the Suns must wait on other results across the Western Conference to see whether they have done enough for a wild-card spot.

Phoenix was made to endure something of a Memphis resurgence in the second half as the hosts cut their lead to single digits, but guard Jordan Goodwin scored eight straight Suns points in the fourth quarter to kill any hopes of a comeback.

"He was great," Vogel said of Goodwin, who finished with 14 points and added five rebounds in 20 minutes on the court.

"You know, he's had some ups and downs this year. We've been challenging him as a coaching staff to be better on both sides of the ball.

"He competes defensively but staying within the framework of what we're asking him to do… to see it all come together for him was a great night for all of us, as coaches, trying to challenge a player and see him respond, and for him, to respond and have a great night."

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