The Suns traded Eric Bledsoe on Tuesday to Milwaukee for Greg Monroe and two draft picks. With the point guard officially off the team, the Suns knew that they would need a playmaker to step up for them the rest of the season. Devin Booker looks to be that player.
“I think he knows there’s so much attention and if he doesn’t make the passes, the double-team will come harder,” Jared Dudley said about his teammate. “For his age, his IQ is very high, the game is slowing down for him. It usually takes your third year to slow down, it has been. Not only does he have the green light, he has a confidence when he chooses his spots.”
With Mike James and Tyler Ulis still relatively new to the NBA, the Suns will look to their shooting guard in Booker to help provide the ball movement. That is exactly what the Suns received on Wednesday night.
Booker’s playmaking ability was on display as he led the Suns against the Heat totaling six assists (most by a player on either team) and zero turnovers.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of attention,” Booker said. “Getting a lot of players involved, I’ve been stressing that since the beginning of the year. So just being patient and let the game come to me and take what the defense gives me.”
This didn’t slow down his scoring numbers either as the 21-year-old finished as the game’s leading scorer with 30 points.
“We’re trying to put him in positions where he can make more plays for people,” Interim Head Coach Jay Triano said. “When he has the ball he makes good decisions, whether its scoring or moving it to get other guys shots.”
A slow start by the Suns allowed the Heat to reach a 14-point lead midway through the first quarter. Once again, the Suns looked to have to battle back into the game.
“It’s hard to play catch-up for sure,” Triano said. “We’ve been getting off to slow starts. I think teams are ramped up at first, and maybe they take their foot off the gas and we’re able to climb back in, but first quarters haven’t been very good.”
The Suns would bring the game within six, but that would not quite be enough as the Heat walked away with a 126-115 victory.
One of the biggest difference makers seemed to be the absence of Suns starting center Tyson Chandler (back spasms) and it showed by being out-rebounded 53-34.
“I think if you look at the rebounding, that’s a big thing,” Triano said. “Whiteside kind of rolling to the rim, with our smaller guys on him, if we got hung up on the screen, that put us behind, we just didn’t have the size. Alex Len picks up two quick ones (fouls), and Tyson’s not able to play so we don’t really have a big guy around the rim to stop him.”
Mike James finished the game with 18 points, four rebounds and three assists. TJ Warren chimed in with 16 points and six rebounds of his own.
The Suns will stay at home as they gear up to face the Orlando Magic on Friday. Catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.