Devin Booker hit an incredible game-winning, turnaround fadeaway jumper at the buzzer, in the Tuesday afternoon game between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers.
It was game number three in the Orlando bubble for the two teams. Right now, the Clippers are attempting to secure the second seed for the first time in franchise history. The Suns on the other hand, are battling to qualify for a play-in game by attempting to get the ninth seed in the Western Conference.
The Suns led by two to three possessions for what felt like most of the game. The Clippers led by Kawhi Leonard, charged back in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 115. As time winded down, all they needed was one stop. They got that stop.
Upon securing the rebound, Ivica Zubac attempted to pass the ball to Paul George. The pass was deflected by Mikal Bridges and retrieved by the Suns for a chance to win the game again. This time, with the shot clock off.
That is precisely what Devin Booker did, hitting a Kobe Bryant-esque fadeaway with Paul George in his face to win the game. 117-115 would be the final score, as the Suns became the only team in the Western Conference to go 3-0 since the restart. Booker was incredible and unguardable all day, finishing with 35 points, 4 rebounds, and 8 assists on an incredible 13/25 from the field and 6/9 from 3.
The Clippers now fall to 1-2 in the restart and 45-22 on the year. Some encouraging signs for the Clippers were the improved performances of Ivica Zubac and Marcus Morris Sr. Zubac finished the game with a season-high 18 points, to go along with 12 rebounds. Morris chipped in with his best shooting game as a Clipper, ending with 16 points on 6/8 shooting.
Another positive for the Clippers, was the return of Lou Williams. The two time reigning Sixth Man of the Year looked solid in his 21 minute stint. He finished with 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists on 3/8 shooting. Sadly for the Clippers, Paul George wasn’t able to continue his hot shooting from the first two games, finishing 6/17 from the field with 23 points. The Clippers two losses in the bubble have now both come against game-winning shots.
However, it wasn’t an individual play or performance that lost the Clippers this game. It was something we have seen collectively all season. There have been certain games where this Clipper ball club didn’t begin the game with defensive intensity. A team picked by many to win it all because of their defense, have shown in many games to be lazy and naive about their opposition. For example, the Clippers started out slowly in both home games against the Sacramento Kings. They also were lethargic to start the loss at Phoenix in October, as well as the blowout in January to Memphis. All those games started out with low defensive energy, and led to those weaker teams gaining confidence on offense, and being set on defense.
In conclusion, the Clippers need to be better if they expect to defeat the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday. A team they may very well meet in the first round.