Booker has 45 points, Suns top Leonard-less Clippers 129-124

WITH Kevin Durant drawing defenders, Devin Booker found his way to the basket again and again.

Booker scored 45 points, Durant added 28 and the Phoenix Suns beat the Kawhi Leonard-less Los Angeles Clippers 129-124 on Thursday night (Friday morning, April 21, 2023 PH time) to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference playoff series.

“He set the tone, got to the rim, made plays for others, just controlling the whole game,” Durant said of Booker. “We’re going to need him to do that going forward.”

Leonard sat out because of a sprained right knee, the same injury that has sidelined fellow star Paul George since March 21. Leonard was hurt in Game 1, and played through it in Game 2, but afterward his condition didn’t improve.

“Those are those trick games, where you think somebody is missing one of their top players and you let off the gas a little bit,” Booker said. “They played their (rear ends) off tonight. The whole team was prepared for that so we didn’t take a step back.”

Norman Powell led the Clippers, scoring a career playoff-high 42 points on 15-of-23 shooting. Russell Westbrook added 30 points and 11 assists.

Game 4 is Saturday (Sunday PH time) in Los Angeles.

Booker shot 18 for 29 and had seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks while playing a game-high 44 minutes. He scored 38 points in Game 2.

“If it was up to me, I wouldn’t have been out those 12 minutes. My body feels good,” Booker said. “I dedicate my whole entire life to this sport and this game. When you have it going like that on the big stage, there’s nothing else you can ask for.” (AP)