The return of Devin Booker feels like the icing on a very sweet Phoenix Suns cake right now.
Rolling atop the Western Conference with a 24-5 record, the Suns welcomed Booker to the lineup after a seven-game absence with a hamstring injury.
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Impressively, the Suns navigated the stretch with a 5-2 record, before defeating the Charlotte Hornets 137-106 on Sunday, with Booker contributing 16 points, six rebounds and five assists in 26 minutes.
“We are a very good team, that’s what I learned,” Booker said of what he learned in his spare time.
“It’s not that I didn’t know it before, but the machine is still moving. Even in games where we’ve brought someone out, someone takes on that role.”
That depth was on the horizon against the Hornets, with nine separate players scoring double digits, led by big backup JaVale McGee with 19.
“We have a really good system thanks to coach Monty and the coaching staff, but at the same time, we have a lot of talented players who know how to play the game and play for each other.”
Hear from the team tonight! 👇
– Phoenix Suns (@Suns) December 20, 2023
Long periods on the bench have been rare for the 25-year-old since he became an All-Star in 2018-19, and the Suns’ leading scorer has only missed a handful of games in the past three seasons.
“I feel good man, I’m playing basketball again. It’s not easy sitting on that touchline for a considerable amount of time, but we have a really good team. I learned some things and saw some things from the sideline that I tried to. implement”. today and will use it in the future. “
Most importantly, Booker used the depth on the roster to take his time with the recovery, making sure there were no mental concerns about the hamstring when he returned to the court.
“That’s where I wanted to make sure I got there before I hit the court, where I wasn’t worried about it at any point and tonight I felt healthy, I felt good.”
“I had my test, my races with the team. We have a very deep team and as long as you can get those races with the team, it is not common. Those guys came on days off and pushed me, so it gave me confidence.” to go out again. “
The offseason acquisition Landry Shamet was highlighted by Booker, and the sniper replaced Booker in the starting group during his time off the court. Shamet was impressive during his starts, averaging 10.4 points on 41 percent shooting from deep.
As has become customary with this version of the Suns, Shamet returned directly to his bench role against Charlotte, adding 15 points, three rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes.
Head coach Monty Williams was pleased with the overall performance, although the return of the All-Star guard was the story of the night.
“He had an open mind, he didn’t think he was going to play bad because he’s a very good basketball player,” Williams said after the game.
“I thought on his first shots he was finding his rhythm, but everything he did was within our scheme and our system. I saw the normal Devin Booker slip when he runs. I saw, not the normal Book, it was his first game in a few weeks, but I saw many signs that it will arrive sooner rather than later. “
For a team that has barely lost all season, that’s a scary thought for the rest of the league.