The Phoenix Suns are terrible on just about every level. There are really few reasons for neutral NBA fans to watch them beyond checking in on Deandre Ayton and Josh Jackson.
But one of those few reasons is that Devin Booker is a top-notch solo scorer capable of springing for 50 points on any given night.
Monday was one of those nights.
Booker was feeling it, hitting all manner of shots as he tried desperately all by his lonesome to keep Phoenix in striking distance of the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. He could not: the Jazz led by 14 entering the fourth, despite Booker scoring 47 through three quarters.
Booker kept trying, to his credit. And so the Jazz kept trying to stop him, even as their lead bloomed to 30 and more.
After being pulled with five minutes left due to foul trouble, Suns coach Igor Kokosov put Booker back in the game with 56 points and 2:57 left to play. Phoenix trailed by, uh, 31. Clearly, the Suns wanted to get Booker to 60 points. (Deja vu for current Jazzian and former Celtic Jae Crowder?)
Except Jimmer Fredette, newly signed to the Suns and playing in Utah, where he famously starred for BYU, wanted to get one gosh-darn bucket. And Utah fans — whether in fealty to Fredette or in opposition to Booker getting to 60 — cheered Fredette on every time he touched the ball.
Fredette was 0-for-7 from the field with zero points when Booker came back in with three minutes left. The first play out of that timeout saw Fredette attack off the dribble (never a strong suit) and miss.
Make that 0-for-8.
Fredette got on the board with a couple of free throws a few seconds later, and Booker hit a technical free throw to get to 57 with 1:59 left. This is the next shot Booker took.
Up 30, the Jazz are intent on staying in front of Booker and forcing him into tough shots. With his teammate sitting on 57, Fredette is intent on calling for the ball from the corner despite being 0-for-8 in the game. And despite all that, Booker is intent on getting 60.
He did not make this shot.
Undeterred, the next time down, Booker got the ball on the right wing. He immediately got doubled. In a 32-point game with 94 seconds left.
He still took the shot. And he made the shot.
Now he has 59 with 91 seconds left. One more bucket and everyone can go home happy.
The next time down ...
Fredette time! Whoa — 1-for-9! Utah fans are cheering like this is a three-point game. It is a 30-point game.
Now we’re closing in on the final whistle. There are only one or two more chances for Booker to get 60 now. Time to get the ball to ...
Yep. Fredette, 1-for-9 from the floor in his second game back in the NBA, uses Booker, the teammate sitting on 59 points with a minute left in a 31-point game, as a screener to fire up a 27-foot brick.
This is some real toxic teammate behavior. This is Jimmy Butler in a practice gym or Kyrie Irving in front of a camera stuff. This is ample cause to get waived first thing Tuesday morning stuff. WHAT ARE YOU DOING, FREDETTE?
Someone has to tell him Booker has 59. Someone please tell Fredette his teammate is sitting on 59 points with less than a minute to go.
The Jazz fouled Fredette there, maybe intentionally. He made the free throws. Four points for him! Alright!
It seems at this point someone informed everyone that Booker (still staying in the game) had 59 points. The Suns fouled twice to get the ball back (down 33 with 19 seconds left, this is normal). The Jazz, who must be angry they are still be subjected to this bizarre spectacle, decided to return the favor.
That’s Kyle Korver and Ekpe Udoh lunging for De’Anthony Melton after the rebound to commit an intentional foul, sending Melton to the line with 18 seconds left and preventing Booker from getting a final shot at 60.
Unless, of course, the Suns want to intentionally foul right back —
No, Phoenix did not do that. Booker finished with 59. Fredette somehow kept his roster spot (for now). This is all normal. This is aaaaaaaaall normal.