Devin Booker had 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists to secure his first carer triple-double. Booker’s huge performance helped the Suns overcome the absence of Chris Paul and beat the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

“I don’t understand why everyone’s acting surprised at this point,” said Suns forward Jae Crowder. “This is his first time on this stage but he’s capable. He’s more than capable. He’s more than ready. He prepares like no other.”

Chris Paul was absent due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The Clippers were missing star Kawhi Leonard for the third game in a row due to a sprained right knee.

“I have no excuse,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “I thought we played hard and competed. A little credit — they were making shots and we didn’t. But I loved our fight. I loved what I saw.”

Booker had the game-sealing dunk, which sealed the Suns’ eighth straight victory. Booker certainly proved a point as he was left out of the All-NBA Teams.

Booker was not worried about rankings as in a postgame interview he said, “I’ll let you guys do the rankings. I’m just going out there to win every game possible. I’ve been saying this since the start of the playoffs — every next game is the biggest game.”

The Clippers had played just 36 hours prior when they finished off the Utah Jazz. Clippers’ Paul George was not concerned. “We got to figure out how to counter, which we will, figure out another game plan. I think this was a good feel-out game to see adjustments. We have been great at adjusting.”

Deandre Ayton produced 20 points and nine rebounds. Cameron Payne added 11 points and nine assists.

For the Clippers, Reggie Jackson had 24 points.

After the game, Paul celebrated with his teammates over FaceTime. “He’s eager to get back,” Crowder said.

Suns’ general manager James Jones was named the NBA’s Executive of the Year. The announcement was made a few minutes before tipoff.

Jones is a man of few words and proved to be so when handed the microphone. After quickly thanking the crowd he said, “All I can say is, Go Suns, let’s win.”

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