BOSTON -- Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker became the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 points in a game, accomplishing the feat in Friday night's 130-120 loss to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
Booker joined Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor and Kobe Bryant as players to have scored at least 70 points in one game. It was the 11th game in NBA history in which a single player scored 70 points or more, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Booker finished 21-of-40 shooting overall, including 4-of-11 on 3-pointers, and 24-of-26 from the free throw line. He added eight rebounds and six assists in 45 minutes.
"This doesn't happen very often," an exhausted Booker said as he shuttled through postgame media duties. "Especially against a really good defensive team like the Boston Celtics. I knew I was going to have to come in, lock in mentally tonight -- playing at Boston isn't easy all the time. They made it tough for me in the first half, and I tried to get it going. I was ultra-aggressive. My teammates started finding me, they started setting really good screens for me, and the rest is history."
Suns forward Jared Dudley tweeted a postgame photo of the team celebrating Booker's feat:
History!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/NIdFeeLkEF— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) March 25, 2017
Suns coach Earl Watson utilized multiple timeouts and intentionally fouled late in the fourth quarter, which aided Booker's quest for 70 points. While fans at TD Garden embraced his scoring outburst and cheered -- particularly with the Celtics out front by double digits -- Boston players seemed less than enthusiastic about the way the Suns ran up Booker's scoring total.
The Suns called two timeouts in the final 44 seconds, both while trailing by double figures, and committed two fouls in that same span in order to generate extra shots for Booker, who scored five points during that stretch to push him to 70 points. Booker might have pushed his total even higher but missed two shots in the closing seconds.
Watson was unapologetic about the way he approached the final minutes.
"It's basketball," he said. "I'm not coming to any arena just happy to be there, trying to be liked. I don't care about being liked. I really don't care, to be honest with you. We're coming in here, we're trying to build something with this young group. If people don't like us, why we build it, so what? Do something about it. Simple as that.
"It's about letting our kids be great. You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that."
Booker noted how Watson was his player development coach before becoming the Suns' head coach and said he appreciated the way Watson tried to help him.
Asked whether it was weird to celebrate a 70-point game despite losing, Booker offered a poised explanation.
"It is [weird] because we've all been winners most of our life," he said. "But at the same time, the way our season's gone right now, we're kind of looking for something to celebrate. And that meant a lot to see my veterans happy. Tyson Chandler cheering me on. Jared Dudley had 10 assists tonight looking for me every time downcourt. It is [weird] sometimes, but you have to see the beauty in it.
"At the end of the day, history was made, and I couldn't do it without my team, so they're gonna celebrate."
The NBA posted Dudley's locker room snapshot of Suns players huddled around Booker with a "70" sign on its Instagram page. A comment posted from Celtics forward Jae Crowder's account (and later deleted) said, "Never seen so many guys happy after an 'L'."
Asked about jawing with Crowder during the game, Booker said: "We were just messing around. Crowder's a really good player. He said, I think at the start of the fourth, he said, 'You're not going to get 50.' I said, 'I wish you were out here.' I think he was sitting at the time. We were just exchanging throughout the rest of the game. Like I said, I respect the Celtics, what they've done here, the storied franchise that they have. Best of luck to them in the playoffs."
Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas looked unamused on the court.
"It was weird what they were doing," Thomas said. "I've never seen nothing like that, chasing those numbers. But it is what it is.
"I don't think anybody's ever seen that. To continue to call timeouts, continue to foul when we're up 15. But it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him the most points possible. And hats off to him, though. He played a hell of a game."
Booker topped Klay Thompson's 60-point effort from December for the highest-scoring game in the NBA this season. He had 51 second-half points, including 28 in the fourth quarter, when the Suns intentionally fouled and used their timeouts to help Booker run up his point total.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Booker, 20, is the youngest player to score 70, or even 60, points in a game. He had the highest-scoring game in the NBA since Bryant scored 81 in January 2006.
It was the ninth game of 50 points or more in the NBA this season and the most points scored by an opponent against the Celtics, eclipsing the 64 points scored by Baylor with the Minneapolis Lakers in 1959.
Despite Booker's offensive exploits, the Celtics never trailed during Friday's game and led by as much as 26.