After the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1, Suns star guard Devin Booker made a FaceTime call with Chris Paul. Paul, the Suns' starting point guard, was forced to miss Game 1 due to being in the league's health and safety protocol.
Booker scored a game-high 40 points, had 13 rebounds and 11 assists. "You seen them 11 assists, right?" Suns big man DeAndre Ayton said into the phone. "You seen him throw out 11 dimes, right?" After Game 1, Booker underlined the importance of Paul.
"We put him on FaceTime. He's our leader. We lean on him for a lot," Booker said. "We know how disappointed he is and frustrated he is he couldn't be out here for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, especially knowing his past history around this time.
But we had him all the way through. We brought him in the locker room, had him in our after-game huddle. He's proud of us. He's ready to get back, he's working and we can't wait to have him."
Suns head coach Monty Williams praised Booker
"I like the way Devin did it," coach Monty Williams said.
"He didn't inject himself into the game. He just did it out of what we do. There are times where a guy scores and you just want to go grab the ball and jack up a shot. I thought the way Devin did it tonight was within our scheme and what we do."
Suns managed to stay calm in key moments and claim a 120-114 win. "We definitely miss him. The last three minutes of that game, that's when we felt like, 'Where the hell Chris at?'" forward Jae Crowder said.
"That's the point when he's that guy. He's that guy to make that play for everybody, the guy to put us in position." Booker collected his first-ever triple-double in his first Western Conference Finals appearance.
"That's who Book is," Williams said. "He's been waiting for this moment, these moments for a long, long time." Booker gave credit to Paul. "Chris being one of my mentors and not being able to be here today, we wanted to do it for him.
We talked about that pregame," Booker said. "We all knew we'd have to give it a little bit more. Ball security, my job keeping everybody involved. Stuff that's usually on Chris' plate, we all had to make up for today as a team."