Reunion with Devin Booker’s NBA Bubble Game winner vs. Clippers

The Phoenix Suns went from being one of the most feared teams in the Western Conference in the 2000s to consistent basement dwellers for most of the 2010s.

The winds of change began to blow in their favor when they called up Kentucky shooting guard Devin Booker in 2015, and the franchise has never looked back since.

Booker saw how his team struggled with the franchise in its early seasons, but he was dedicated to restoring the Suns to their former glory while improving exponentially each season.

Things came to a head in the 2019-20 NBA season, which was shortened by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Suns were among 22 teams invited to the 2020 Orlando Bubble — nine teams from the Eastern Conference and 13 from the West (Phoenix was ranked 13th at the time of the restart).

Phoenix’s inclusion was questioned by many observers as it didn’t look like they deserved a spot given their 26-39 record at the time.

However, mathematical odds at the time indicated that they could qualify for the newly introduced play-in tournament with one major caveat: they would have to go eight games unbeaten and hope that teams placed ahead of them would lose their games.

Phoenix Suns, NBA Bubble
Phoenix Suns players react during the performance before their game against the Dallas Mavericks at the Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida on August 2, 2020.
Photo: Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images

To everyone’s surprise, the Suns had pulled off back-to-back wins to kick-start their campaign with a 13-point win over the Washington Wizards and a hard-fought two-point win over longtime rivals the Dallas Mavericks.

Their next game would be one of the toughest on their schedule as they would face the Los Angeles Clippers who were scheduled to appear in the conference finals on August 4, 2020.

It was a back-and-forth battle, with both teams snatching the lead multiple times throughout the game, but the winner would be decided with a buzzer beat game winner.

With 31.3 seconds on the clock and a tie at 115, the Suns had possession and point guard Ricky Rubio was forced into a beautifully contested shot.

The Suns had another opportunity to win the game after lanky forward Mikal Bridges deflected Ivica Zubac’s ill-advised let-off pass and the ball landed in Booker’s hands with 8.1 seconds left.

Paul George met him near the logo and when Zubac tried to help George this gave Booker the open lane to his left.

Booker faked a pass to Cameron Johnson on the right wing, dove into the paint and was hit by Kawhi Leonard, who sent Booker airborne with a fake shot.

He turned and drilled the match winner right in the face of George for the win and his signature pose.

The Suns would do the inevitable and shock the league by going undefeated but failing to qualify for the play-in tournament after the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Brooklyn Nets in a nail biter in their eighth game of the bubble.

Little was known to NBA fans at the time, but her performance then served as the catalyst for their current winning streak and kickstarted the arrival of Chris Paul.

The Suns reached the NBA Finals a season later, and while they stumbled in the Western Conference Semifinals last year, there’s no denying that something special is brewing in The Valley, and it all started exactly two years ago.

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns, Bubble
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns falls to the ground after scoring the game-winning basket against the LA Clippers at The Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 04, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Photo: Evin C. Cox/Getty Images Reunion with Devin Booker’s NBA Bubble Game winner vs. Clippers

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