Devin Booker was in the middle of an incredible individual scoring run in Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Finals when he picked up his fifth foul at the start of the fourth quarter. Booker checked out with 10:50 remaining in the game and re-entered five minutes later for the dramatic conclusion of the Phoenix Suns’ game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
With under four minutes left in the game, Giannis Antetokounmpo stole Chris Paul’s pass and kicked it ahead to Jrue Holiday for a fastbreak. Booker was the only defender separating Holiday and an open layup. As Booker went to contest the shot, it sure looked like he fouled Holiday. Instead, the refs didn’t call it, and Antetokounmpo would pick up the ball and put it in for an easy layup.
Booker would have picked up his sixth foul and thus fouled out if the refs the made the correct call here. It was shocking to see a no-call in the moment.
Refs swallow their whistle on this call. This would’ve been Devin Booker’s 6th foul pic.twitter.com/3DfZIaeWzv— CrossedSports (@crossedsportsig) July 15, 2021
Antetokounmpo’s tip in on the play cut Phoenix’s lead to one with 3:40 left. It was easy to imagine Booker carrying the Suns to victory in the final minutes given his remarkable performance to that point in the game, but that’s not what happened. Instead, Milwaukee came away with a 109-103 victory to tie the NBA Finals at 2-2 as the series heads back to Phoenix.
NBA fans foolishly accused the league of rigging the game after the play.
Let's see what's trending on Twitter, for no particular reason pic.twitter.com/9jJcsBqkeo— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 15, 2021
The refs admitted to blowing the call after the game:
Crew chief James Capers told me in the pool report that Devin Booker should have fouled out for making contact with Jrue Holiday on his run out with about 3:41 remaining in the 4th Q: pic.twitter.com/gkMCdvMhT5— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 15, 2021
Booker would end the night with 42 points on 17-of-28 shooting from the field. The controversy surrounding his call would have been even bigger the next morning if not for Giannis’ amazing block helping the Bucks secure the win.
While the no call will be what everyone remembers about Booker in Game 4, it must be noted how great he played. Booker out-scored the rest of the Suns’ starters by himself (42-38), and hit so many tough, contested mid-range shots to give the Suns a chance at the win. Here are the full highlights of Booker’s Game 4:
That Booker had this type of scoring effort after finishing with only 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting in the Suns’ Game 3 loss shows how tough he really is.
Milwaukee’s consecutive wins in Game 3 and Game 4 has the NBA Finals tied at 2-2 as the series returns to Phoenix.