Phoenix Suns superstar Devin Booker had an opportunity to cut into the Los Angeles Clippers’ 111-108 lead with 15 seconds left in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series. After a tough drive to the basket, Booker was blocked by the Clippers’ Russell Westbrook, who deflected the ball off of Booker out of bounds, giving possession to the Clippers with 10 seconds left.
After the Suns’ 115-110 loss, Booker hinted that there was contact on the play, though he didn’t complain.
“I don’t know how the rule works,” he said. “I know when you shoot a jump shot, they can go hand-to-hand. But on a scoop. … Wrist. Hand. It’s over with.”
It would turn out to be a pivotal play that all but clinched the game for the Clippers, who stole the first game in the best-of-seven series. Los Angeles put the game away with two free throws by Eric Gordon with 7.2 seconds left.
Booker finished the night with 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting. He also had three assists, four steals and three blocks while shooting 10-of-19 from the field. Despite his impressive outing, the story of the game was the last-second defensive effort by Westbrook. Although the Clippers guard struggled offensively, shooting just 3-of-19 from the field, Westbrook’s defense was sensational — especially when his team needed him the most. He finished the night with nine points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and two steals.
Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard Shows Confidence After Game 1 Win Over Suns
But Leonard was an unstoppable force, finishing with 38 points on 13-of-24 shooting, five rebounds and five assists. Los Angeles started out the game with an impressive 30-18 lead after the first quarter. After the Suns nearly erased the Clippers’ 30-18 first-quarter lead with a 36-29 second quarter, Leonard hit timely shots in the second half to will his team to a huge Game 1 win on the road.
Leonard said it felt good to be back in the postseason after a two-year absence.
“It felt good. Just another game . … Like I said before, we got an opportunity to win a championship,” he said. “We got to give it our all. It’s just Game 1 so, we got a lot to do.”
Devin Booker on Suns’ Game 1 Performance: ‘No Excuses’
The Suns found themselves trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half of Game 1. After a slow start, the Suns battled their way to make it a five-point deficit at the half. Heading into the fourth quarter, the teams were tied. That’s when the Clippers stepped up, led by a pair of clutch 3-pointers by Leonard. Despite a final push by the Suns, Russell Westbrook’s game-sealing block would put the stamp on an impressive Game 1 performance by the Clippers.
Los Angeles now takes an 1-0 lead in the series and has taken home court advantage in this series moving forward. Booker was asked if the week off from games was part of Phoenix’s slow start in Game 1. Booker emphatically stated that there’s “no excuses now.”
“It’s that time of year,” he said. “If you’re not up and ready for these, then you’re playing the wrong sport.”