The roll call of the exclusive club is illustrious and historic: Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, David Robinson, Elgin Baylor, David Thompson. All managed to drop 70 points in a game at some point in their career. And now they’re joined by a baby-faced guard who at 20 years and 145 days becomes the youngest to smash that barrier.
Devin Booker ran around, through and over the Celtics’ defense Friday for 70 on the nose in a shooting display rarely seen on an NBA court. He did it by taking 40 shots and also making a remarkable 24 of 26 from the line. Even more impressive is that he did it against a 47-26 Boston team with the league’s 11th-best defense, and on the road.
And nobody’s ever scored that much against the Celtics in their long and distinguished history, with Booker shredding the Celtics more than, among others, Michael Jordan, whose 63-point outburst in the playoffs remains a vivid part of league history. Jordan’s overall career-high was 69.
It was the type of performance that will only elevate Booker’s promise as the next best shooting guard in the league, and it’s easily the high water mark this season for the disappointing Suns, whose record will likely finish among the bottom three or four in the NBA.
He had 51 in the second half with the Celtics, still fighting for playoff position in the East, throwing several bodies his way. One reason for Booker getting 70: The Suns were fighting much of the game, trailing by 26 at one point, and needed help. Boston won 130-120, and after Boston began running up the lead in the second half, Phoenix began helping Booker by setting screens, intentionally fouling and used their timeouts to give Booker as many chances to score as many points as possible.
But, 70 points is 70 points, no matter how it’s done.
Kobe was 28 when he scored 81 on the Raptors. Booker’s previous season high was 39 which he did in back-to-back games in January. The next step for Booker is to play a meaningful game for the Suns, who haven’t made the playoffs in his two seasons.