With Chris Paul missing Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Devin Booker carried the load, leading the team to victory by recording a 40-point triple-double.
In the Game 2 thriller, however, he didn't have it. He struggled to knock down shots from the field and committed seven of the team's nine turnovers. Fortunately, for him, the rest of the team stepped-up to keep the game close late.
MORE: Takeaways - Ayton, Payne help Suns clinch Game 2 thriller
Then, in the final 30 seconds, the two-time All-Star came up big. First, he knocked down a clutch jumper out of a timeout to give the team a 102-101 lead.
Paul George to the rim for the lead- NBA (@NBA) June 23, 2021
Devin Booker jumper in response.
Paul George again.
7.8 seconds left on ESPN. Suns ball. #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/go9S51ibud
With Paul George's jumper in response, the Clippers led 103-102 and it came down to the Suns needing to score with 0.9 seconds left.
Booker, who does have three buzzer-beating game-winners to his name, was instead screening Ivica Zubac - Deandre Ayton's man - which would lead to the easy alley-oop game-winner.
EVERY ANGLE of Jae Crowder's pinpoint pass to Deandre Ayton to win Game 2 for the @Suns! #NBAPlayoffs #ThatsGame #NBAWCF presented by AT&T continues with Game 3 on Thursday at 9pm/et on ESPN pic.twitter.com/JMEXIj0erK- NBA (@NBA) June 23, 2021
The play began and ended with a great pass and a great finish, though Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum was one of few to quickly notice and call-out Booker's contribution to the play.
Great screen by book . Hell of a pass.- CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) June 23, 2021
And mind you, the Suns' 6'5" guard was doing this with a potentially broken nose - one he suffered earlier in the game after a collision with Pat Beverley late in the third quarter.
"It feels better now," Booker said of the nose postgame. "If it was a loss, I think it would have hurt a little bit more. It's good. Probably get some scans and probably get a mask ready."
Booker finished the game with 20 on 5-of-16 shooting from the field but he selflessly came up big when it mattered the most. More importantly, the team won despite an off-game from him.
MORE: Twitter reactions - NBA players stunned by Ayton's jam
"I know his face was swollen. I know he was in pain but that's the will that I have been talking about that he has," Suns head coach Monty Williams said of Booker postgame.
Williams credited Booker's defence before going back to his effort on the final play.
"The screen he set at the end, like the other option was if they made a mistake to pop and get a shot, but his screen was tremendous."
"That's an unselfish play by him," Payne said of Booker as they addressed the media together postgame. "He sacrificed, made a screen and somebody else scored. A lot of players won't do that."
Booker added that he had received a couple or three stitches on his nose but he 'was cool'. He'll only have one day for his swollen nose to recover with Game 3 scheduled for Thursday, June 24 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Watch out for Masked Booker!
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.