azcentral sports’ Sarah McLellan and Doug Haller discuss the Suns’ loss to the Lakers, tanking for best possible draft pick and the Pac-12 basketball semifinals.
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Suns guard Devin Booker reacts to Thursday night’s loss to the Lakers.
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Suns guard Devin Booker talks about his team’s fight in Tuesday’s loss to the Wizards and the team’s attitude after P.J. Tucker was traded at the trade deadline. Doug Haller/azcentral sports
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Shot Clock: Final Four contenders, Isaiah Thomas vs. Tyler Ulis and Taijuan Walker has a good outing for the Diamondbacks. Video: azcentral sports
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Phoenix Suns’ Tyler Ulis talks about his game-winning shot against the Celtics on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Doug Haller/azcentral sports)
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Suns center Alan Williams discusses Friday night’s win over the Thunder.
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Broadcaster Al McCoy, “The Voice of the Suns” talks about his induction into the Suns Ring of Honor on Mar. 3, 2017 in Phoenix, Ariz. By Rob Schumacher
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azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and Dan Bickley break down the NBA MVP race and a possible reunion in the Cardinals defensive backfield.
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Jose Calderon made 415K for two hours and he didn’t even play. Veuer’s Nick Cardona explains why.
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This point guard is making his next inspirational move. Buzz60’s Emily Drooby (@emilydrooby) has the story.
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Former NBA player Eddie Johnson tells us who’s favored to win the NBA championship.
USA TODAY Sports
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Suns guard Devin Booker discusses Vince Carter’s ejection after hitting Booker with an elbow in a “chippy” loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday. Doug Haller/azcentral sports
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Suns forward T.J. Warren discusses the team’s loss to the Bucks on Sunday and how he’s been feeling recently. Doug Haller/azcentral sports
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Suns center Alan Williams discusses a Suns overtime loss to the Bulls
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PJ Tucker, after being traded by the Phoenix Suns to the Toronto Raptors said: “Phoenix has changed my life. All the people here, all the fans… I couldn’t ask for a better place.” Video: Doug Haller/azcentral sports
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Jay Dieffenbach and Doug Haller of azcentral sports talk about the Suns’ defensive future and the trade of P.J. Tucker to Toronto. Hannah Gaber/azcentral.com
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Phoenix Suns center Alan Williams watches his mother, Jeri Williams, sworn in as Phoenix police chief in Chesapeake Energy Arena. (Paul Coro/azcentral sports)
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Hosted by head coach Earl Watson, who says the Suns “embrace and celebrate our youth.” Video: Phoenix Suns
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Shot Clock: Suns-Lakers, tanking, Pac-12 picks
Devin Booker on loss to Lakers
Devin Booker on Suns’ loss to Wizards
Shot Clock: Final Four contenders, Ulis vs. Thomas, Taijuan Walker
Suns’ Tyler Ulis on buzzer beater
Alan Williams on Suns’ win over Thunder
Broadcaster Al McCoy talks about his induction into the Suns Ring of Honor
Shot Clock: NBA MVP debate, Cardinals DBs
NBA player makes $415,000 for two hours
NBA star will donate $1,000 for every point and assist he makes
Are Cavaliers or Warriors favored to win NBA title?
Booker on Carter’s ejection, “chippy” loss in Memphis
T.J. Warren on Suns’ loss to Bucks
Alan Williams on Suns’ OT loss in Chicago
PJ Tucker after being traded by Suns: ‘I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a tough day for me’
Suns’ trade of P.J. Tucker no big surprise
Alan Williams watching his mother’s police chief ceremony
Suns ’embrace youth’ in WeArePHX ‘Momentum’ video
Ninety minutes before Thursday night’s game, TNT analyst Reggie Miller was talking about Devin Booker and how the Suns guard had the tools to one day be an NBA All-Star.
“But the success of your team will determine that,” said Miller, inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. “He’s averaging 21 points, but once your team starts to win and you compete for the playoffs – speak of the devil – you will get more consideration.”
Ahead, Miller spotted Booker walking his direction. The second-year guard was on his way to get up early shots on the main court at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
“See, I’m over here praising you right now, comparing you at 19 and me at 19,’’ Miller said, sharing a quick embrace with Booker. “You’re here (hand held high) and I’m here (hand held low). I’m telling you …”
Booker, 20, was just 8 years old when Miller played his final NBA game, but over the years he has watched enough video to understand the shooting guard’s greatness.
“I don’t compare,’’ he told Miller. “I don’t compare.”
“Keep it up, young fella,’’ Miller said.
LAST GAME:Suns show little fight in loss to Lakers
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There are similarities here. In college, both Miller and Booker were known primarily as shooters. Miller shot 43.9 percent from 3-point range during his final season at UCLA. Booker shot 41.1 during his only season at Kentucky.
In 1987, Miller was the 11th pick of the NBA draft. In 2015, Booker went 13th. Over an 18-year career – all spent with the Indiana Pacers – Miller played in the All-Star Game five times, finishing as one of the best shooters in NBA history. He also was lethal in crunch time, particularly during the postseason.
Booker’s obviously not at such a level, but through two seasons, he’s off to a strong start. What impresses Miller most is that Booker has produced at a high level under difficult circumstances.
“I was 21 my first year; he was 19 – big difference,” Miller said. “I had four years of college under my belt; he had one. He immediately made more of an impact than I did. I played every game my rookie year, but I had the luxury of learning the game from John Long, who was 38 at the time and a seasoned veteran who knew the game in and out. I was lucky to not have so much pressure on me.”
As a rookie last season, Booker was in a similar situation – he averaged just 12.2 minutes his first full month – only it didn’t last. In fact, before one early season game, as the Suns started to struggle, Miller asked then-coach Jeff Hornacek, “Why don’t you just throw him out there and start him?”
WIN $1,000 IN PRIZES: NCAA Tournament bracket contest
Eventually, that’s what happened, and Booker responded well. He posted six 30-point games his first season. With the Pacers, Miller didn’t reach that total until his third season. As a full-time starter this year, Booker draws the opponent’s toughest perimeter defender each night. Like Miller, who admits to talking trash to Michael Jordan as a rookie, Booker doesn’t back down. Like Miller, he has experienced red-hot stretches, entering Saturday’s contest at Dallas as the NBA’s only player with multiple scoring quarters of 25-plus points.
Overall, Booker averages 20.2 points, shooting 42.3 percent from the field and 34.3 from 3-point range. In his second season – his first as a full-time starter – Miller averaged 16 points, shooting 47.9 percent.
“He has a much better off-the-dribble game than I did at this age,” Miller said. “I developed that maybe my fourth year, taking the ball off the dribble and trying to be more than just a catch-and-shoot player. He’s always been able to do that.”
At the same time, Miller said it’s important to remember the obvious: Booker still is a “baby going against grown men.” He’s still learning. With most players – even those who are extremely skilled – it takes time.
“I started my second year, but it wasn’t until the third year that everything clicked,’’ Miller said. “I knew how to get my shot off. I knew how to score in traffic … With Booker, you can see that coming.”
Contact Doug Haller at 602-444-4949 or at [email protected] Follow him at Twitter.com/DougHaller.
Suns at Mavericks
When: 7 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center.
TV/radio: FSAZ/KTAR FM 98.7.
Dallas update: Entering Friday’s home contest against Brooklyn, the Mavericks (27-36) had won five of six, including their past three. In Tuesday’s win over the Lakers, forward Dirk Nowitzki (13.9 ppg) became the sixth NBA player and the first international one to score 30,000 career points. On Jan. 12, Dallas beat the Suns 113-108 in Mexico City. PG Deron Williams scored 23 points that night, but he’s no longer with the team. In his absence, Yogi Ferrell has taken over and played well, averaging 12.4 points and 5.1 assists in 17 contests. G Seth Curry has averaged 22.8 points, shooting 57.5 percent, over his past five games. F Nerlens Noel – acquired before the trade deadline – is day-to-day with knee soreness.