Former University of Kentucky star Devin Booker set a franchise record with 70 points Friday in the Phoenix Suns’ 130-120 loss to the Celtics in Boston.
The 20-year-old Booker is just the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 or more points in a game, following in the footsteps of Wilt Chamberlain (six times), Kobe Bryant, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor and David Robinson.
“This doesn’t happen very often especially against a really good defensive team like the Boston Celtics,” Booker told The Associated Press. “It’s a zone. It’s kind of hard to explain. I’ve been in those zones before, but never to this extent.”
And Booker’s 70 points were the most ever scored against the Celtics, too.
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“I’ve seen an interview with Kobe, he said what separated him from a lot of people … everyone thought 30 points was a lot,” Booker said after the game. “He said he never set himself a limit. That always sticks in my head. He said he’d score a hundred if he could. He never had a limit. I don’t put a limit on anything. I want to be the best in life, in all parts of life, not just basketball.”
He also had eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and a blocked shot.
Booker told reporters after the game that he told Earl Watson at one point, “Coach, we’re losing. I’d rather be winning right now with 10 points. So we just kept trying to win. Once I got hot, teammates started finding me. … We could just never get over that hump.”
Some of the Celtics’ players, including former Suns point guard Isaiah Thomas, were thrilled that Watson called timeouts to stretch the game out and give Booker more touches.
“I’m not coming into any arena just happy to be there, trying to be liked,” Watson told the AP. “I don’t care about being liked. I really don’t care to be honest with you. We’re trying to build something with this young group. If people don’t like us while we build it, so what? Do something about it.”
Booker told reporters that he’ll always remember the cheers he got from Boston’s fans down the stretch.
“That meant a lot, especially here in Boston,” he told the AP. “I know how rowdy they can be on opponents sometimes. I respect that. That’s how it should be. It’s a night I’m going to remember the rest of my life.”
▪ Fellow Kentucky star Tyler Ulis had three points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals for Phoenix.