Devin Booker wants to stay warm as Suns visit Celtics


December 29, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, United States; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) shouts the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first half at the Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns aim to end the year on a high note when they visit Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics on a New Years Eve morning Friday afternoon.

Booker helped the Suns get back on track after losing streak by scoring 38 points in a 115-97 home win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old All-Star guard surpassed 10,000 career points in the victory, making him the seventh youngest player to achieve the feat.

JaVale McGee and Cameron Payne each added 16 points for the Suns, who led 85-81 after three quarters in a home and away game. Phoenix dominated the visitors 30-16 in the fourth to put the game aside.

The Suns’ previous two back-to-back losses marked the first time the team have lost back-to-back games in three of four losses earlier in the season.

“We’re going through a fun time right now. We’re fixing things, ”Booker said. “I’m just moving on to the mentality of the next game. Same as (Wednesday). You know, we won, but now we’re focusing on Boston.

Phoenix had four players – including center star Deandre Ayton – in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol. Jae Crowder, Elfrid Payton and Abdel Nader were also left out of the protocol while Frank Kaminsky (knee) remains absent.

Boston will look to turn the page after one of its worst shooting performances in recent memory in a 91-82 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

Brown led all scorers with 30 points, but did so on 13 of 36 shots, including a 1 in 13 performance on a 3-point range. The Celtics have managed 35 of 101 (34.7%) shots from the ground and just 4 of 42 (9.5%) attempts from beyond the arc.

Robert Williams III added 16 points, 14 rebounds and a pair of blocks before coming out with a head injury late in the fourth quarter. Al Horford contributed nine points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Boston has lost three straight games and eight of its last 11 games.

“It’s just a (expletive) game,” said a frustrated Brown after the loss. “We wanted to come back and react after playing badly at Minnesota. We played hard but ended up losing. That’s it.”

It was the Celtics’ second game in a row without star Jayson Tatum, who is left out of the COVID-19 protocol. Starting guard Marcus Smart also missed his second straight game with a laceration to his right hand.

Enes Freedom, Aaron Nesmith, Bruno Fernando and Justin Jackson have joined Tatum in the team’s COVID-19 protocol.

Friday’s game will be Boston’s second meeting with Phoenix this season. On December 10, the Celtics couldn’t keep up with a shorthanded Suns team in a 111-90 loss to Phoenix.

Booker and Ayton were both sidelined, but the Suns used a balanced scoring effort to sideline the Celtics. McGee had 21 points, a season-high, and 15 rebounds for Phoenix, who had five starters and seven players in double-digits.

Tatum had 24 points and seven rebounds to pace the Celtics, who played without Brown injured.

– Media at field level

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