Devin Booker scores 52 points to lift the Suns over the Pelicans 124-111

Devin Booker scored 52 points, the fifth-highest scoring game of his career, to power the Phoenix Suns to a 124-111 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night, bringing them within a game of the Pelicans for the No. 6 playoff spot in the Western Conference
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) goes to the basket between New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) and forward Herbert Jones (5) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. The Suns won 124-111. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) goes to the basket between New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) and forward Herbert Jones (5) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. The Suns won 124-111. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Devin Booker scored 52 points, the fifth-highest scoring game of his career, to power the Phoenix Suns to a 124-111 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night, bringing them within a game of the Pelicans for the No. 6 playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Rebounding from a 128-103 loss to Oklahoma City on Friday night, the Suns (44-31) inched closer to New Orleans (45-30). The teams play again in Phoenix on Sunday.

Booker became the first NBA player since Wilt Chamberlain to score at least 50 points in three consecutive games against the same opponent.

In addition to his 52-point outburst in Phoenix's 123-109 victory over New Orleans in the Smoothie King Center on Jan. 19, Booker scored 58 points against New Orleans in a 118-114 home win over the Pelicans on Dec. 12, 2022.

“It means a whole lot,” said Booker, a native of Moss Point, Mississippi, located 110 miles from New Orleans, who had 40 relatives and friends in the stands. “My family was in attendance for two of them. Any time you get named for something Wilt did – it’s happened very few times in my career – you know you did something special.”

Suns coach Frank Vogel said he was in awe watching Booker’s second 52-point game against the Pelicans this year.

“There’s something about playing in this building against this opponent,” Vogel said. “(He) just really has a comfort zone here. To go for 50 three straight times against a single opponent … just shows what kind of special player he is. Three times in a row is just incredible.”

Kevin Durant scored 20 points and Jusuf Nurkic added 19 points and 19 rebounds for the Suns, who led by as many as 25 points in the third quarter.

Durant said it was obvious Booker had it going in the first quarter, and the Suns made a concerted effort to get him the ball and screen harder to create more open space.

“It was like deja vu,” Durant said. “As it was happening, I couldn’t believe he was doing it again.”

Pelicans coach Willie Green said there was no excuse for allowing Booker to go off, especially since they knew his history of burying the Pels.

“He hit some shots that we gave him, and he also hit some tough shots,” Green said. “We have to do better. I mean, there’s no excuse to get 50, put on you twice (in a season). Quite frankly, we were soft guarding him. We just had a soft mentality when it came to being physical with him, and he’s a great player, and you can’t allow him to be comfortable."

Booker’s first 24 points came on just nine shots from the field in the first quarter – he was 8-of-9 from behind the arc.

“He came out with a lot of pace and energy,” Pelicans forward Trey Murphy III said of Booker. “He hit some tough shots, but I think we contributed to it a little as well.”

In Phoenix's 123-109 road victory over New Orleans on Jan. 19, Booker scored 25 points in the first quarter. His 24-point outburst in the first quarter Monday night gave him 76 points in his previous five quarters against the Pelicans.

The Suns built a wall around Zion Williamson on defense, and the Pelicans’ leading scorer didn’t take his first shot until late in the first quarter. Williamson finished with 30 points and five assists. Trey Murphy III added 21 points for New Orleans.

Booker has eight 50-plus scoring games in his career.

UP NEXT

Suns: Host Cleveland on Wednesday night.

Pelicans: Host Orlando on Wednesday night.

___

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (5) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker drives the ball past New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (5) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) goes to the basket ahead of New Orleans Pelicans guard Trey Murphy III (25) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic slam dunks over New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant moves the ball against New Orleans Pelicans guard Trey Murphy III in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) goes to the basket against Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal (3) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Phoenix Suns guard Grayson Allen (8) goes to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans guard Jordan Hawkins (24) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) goes to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans guard Trey Murphy III (25) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. The Suns won 124-111. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker goes to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (11) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. The Suns won 124-111. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (11) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. The Suns won 124-111. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) goes to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (11) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 1, 2024. The Suns won 124-111. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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