(KT) Devin Booker is making a name for himself in the NBA.
The former Kentucky guard recorded a triple-double with 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 120-114 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Sunday night.
Despite his first career triple-double, Booker said the “win feels better” and credited his teammates for reaching the rare feat.
“That’s what I’m out there for the whole entire time,” he said. “So part of the triple double is assists and that’s my teammates making them pay for running and doubling and seeing different types of defenses.”
Booker’s teammates weren’t surprised by the feat, including Cameron Payne, who had 11 points and nine assists Sunday as he got the starting role in the absence of Suns star point guard Chris Paul.
“He just goes out there, plays with a chip on his shoulder, knowing no one giving him nothing,” said Payne, who played his college ball at Murray State. “No one still showing him his love, so he come out there and just trying to prove people wrong every night and that’s big-time for him.”
Phoenix coach Monty Williams referred to Booker as a “well-conditioned athlete” and added that “he’s one of those high-energy guys that I’ve been around.”
Los Angeles coach Tyronn Lue agreed.
“He’s a beast and we understand that,” Lue said. “We’ll go look at the tape and look at the film and just kind of go from there, but he did a good job of attacking. We tried to double team, we tried to blitz, we tried to fire. He took advantage of a lot of it.”
Booker said the Suns’ coaching staff made the right adjustments, which helped on both sides of the ball.
“It’s the playoffs (and) teams are going to make adjustments,” he said. “Teams are going to throw different defenses at you. And the preparation with our team and our coaching staff, I feel like we’re ready for any type of defense that we see.
“Obviously they’re playing small ball lineup and going to be switching a lot of action, so we have to find ways to counter that. But they’re a really good defensive team over there, aggressive defensive team over there, so we just have to take care of the ball and make the right plays.”
During his time with the Suns, Booker has adjusted to Phoenix both on and off the court. He said his past experiences played a key role in getting used to his surroundings.
“It’s a product of my environment. I always credit the different situations that I’ve lived in, growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and then moving to Moss Point, Mississippi. For me, at that time, that was a big culture shock, just two totally different demographics.
“I fell in love with culture of figuring out people and why they act the way they are and it’s usually where they’re from. So just being a sponge to it, being a sponge to everybody around me, everybody I grew up with, and just seeing different things and just loving culture and loving people. So that’s where it came from.”
In moving forward, Booker said his goal is simple and hasn’t changed.
“I’m just going out there to win every game possible,” he said. “I’ve been saying it since the start of the playoffs. Every next game is our biggest game. So that’s for everybody else to rank performances and such. I’m just out there trying to do my job and that’s to win basketball games at all costs.”