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Devin Booker breaking records and carrying Suns into playoff picture

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The former Kentucky Wildcat is lighting it up in Orlando.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Philadelphia 76ers Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Just before COVID-19 hit, the Phoenix Suns were having a so-so season. While they had drastically improved from a year ago, the young Suns were still finding their identity and getting used to the grown man’s league.

However, since arriving to the bubble in Orlando, a spark has been lit under former Kentucky Wildcats guard Devin Booker. The Suns’ star has been on an absolute tear, making it his mission to give his team every chance possible at a playoff berth.

In seven games, Booker has absolutely exploded. He’s averaged 31 points per game, scoring 35 in each of his last three outings, and his team has won by more than an average of 11 points per game.

That continued Tuesday in Phoenix’s 130-117 win over the 76ers, where Booker recorded 35 points on 11/24 shooting (9/17 from deep) with nine boards and seven assists as he flirted with a triple-double.

In the process, Booker tied Walter Davis for the Suns’ franchise record for career 30-point games (90). Booker matched Davis’ mark by playing 426 fewer games.

Back in January, Booker surpassed NBA legend Kobe Bryant as the fourth-youngest player ever to record 7,000 career points. He also became the youngest guard to ever hit that mark.

Granted, Booker isn’t doing this alone. He’s received huge contributions from Dario Saric, DeAndre Ayton and even Ricky Rubio. He has, though, been incredibly consistent and taken ownership of being a leader for such a young team.

The Suns will play their “regular season” game on Thursday afternoon against the Dallas Mavericks. With a win, as well as losses by both Memphis and Portland, they’ll move up to the No. 8 seed. If they win and either Memphis or Portland loses their final game, they’ll move up to the No. 9 seed.

The final spot in the West will come down to a weekend play-in, where the No. 9 seed will have to win two games against the No. 8 seed. They’ll lace up on Saturday at 2:30 P.M. EDT and (if necessary) Sunday at 4:30 P.M. EDT to make the postseason and set up a first-round meeting with the No. 1-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.

Phoenix can’t control if Memphis or Portland lose, but they can control the outcome of their own game on Thursday. Based on how they’ve played over the last seven outings, especially with Booker’s hot hand, the young Suns should have plenty of confidence heading into the final regular season matchup.

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