Booker received the entry pass, was fouled and made two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to give the Phoenix Suns a 118-117 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Booker scored 18 points on just 5 of 17 shots, but coach Monty Williams put the game back in his hands after Portland’s Robert Covington missed two free throws with 4.4 seconds left and the Trail Blazers ahead of the game. ‘a.
Booker took the ball off a screen and was fouled by Norman Powell. Two free throws later, the Suns were victorious, which moved them to a Utah Jazz game for the No.1 seed in the NBA and Western Conference with two games to go.
“It takes mental toughness, endurance, all the things that we talk about to make a game in those times when you didn’t shoot it well,” said Williams. “It happens, but grown-ups have short memories. I think he knew I was going to come see him at that point, whether it was him or Chris Paul) and he produced. “
CJ McCollum missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer for Portland.
Paul led Phoenix with 26 points on 11 of 14 shots and Mikal Bridges had a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Damian Lillard scored a high 41 points on 16 of 23 shots for Portland, which stopped its five-game winning streak. McCollum had 27 points. But the Portland bench scored just 14 points on 5 of 13 shots. Carmelo Anthony scored five points shooting 1 of 7.
The Trail Blazers, who were in game two in a row after beating Utah on Wednesday night, fell to the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, a half a game behind Dallas with two games remaining.
The Suns, who had lost three of four, avoided their first three-game skid of the season.
Phoenix played without center Deandre Ayton, who missed his first game of the season with left knee pain. Williams declined to provide details of Ayton’s injury ahead of the game, saying only that he “came down badly today”. The Suns started Dario Saric in place of Ayton, but Phoenix passed Portland 42-33 and allowed the Trail Blazers to grab a single offensive rebound.
“It’s a testament to the tenacity of our guys and their ability to lock into a game plan,” said Williams. “It also shows how much of a rebound translates into a win when you don’t give a team extra goods, especially how deadly that team is. “
The Suns turned what had been a close game into an 85-77 lead heading into the fourth quarter, thanks to reserve forward Torrey Craig, who scored 10 points in the 2:07 final of the third quarter. Craig hit three straight runs to start the race.
Backup point guard Cam Payne scored 21 points for the Suns, including
11 in the third quarter, and also had six rebounds and five assists.
“I was just aggressive,” Payne said. “I spilled a few big blows. It just comes from being aggressive and having confidence in himself every night. “
Blazers: Forward Nassir Little came out with spasms in his back. … McCollum and Lillard combined for 35 points and eight assists in the first half.
Suns: In addition to Ayton not being available, Phoenix was without forwards Cam Johnson (wrist) and Abdel Nader (knee). … The Suns need a win to hit the 50-game winning mark for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
Blazers: Come home to welcome the Nuggets on Sunday.
Suns: Travel to face Spurs on Saturday and Sunday to close out the regular season.