Was Devin Booker's 70-point game the most meaningless in history?
If you haven't heard by now, a 20-year-old wrote his name in the record books with a 70-point outing against the Boston Celtics on Friday night. Devin Booker, a second year guard out of Kentucky joined the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, David Thompson, David Robinson, and Elgin Baylor as the only players in NBA history to put up 70 in a game.
The outburst also toppled some longstanding records against the C's:
Devin Booker:— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) March 25, 2017
11th 70 point game in @NBA history.
NBA record for scoring by a 20-year old
Most ever at TD Garden
Most ever vs. Celtics
Now even through Booker's historic night, his team couldn't come away with the W... and they weren't really even close. Nonetheless, his teammates were pumped.
Seriously. Booker would pass another milestone and his teammates were acting like he hit a dagger three to win the NBA finals on the bench. It rivaled NCAA tournament style bench celebrations even though the Suns really never had a shot at winning this game.OK, this is just annoying. https://t.co/Z70f4GFm0K— CelticsLife.com (@CelticsLife) March 25, 2017
Instead, they seemed to decide to take the small wins; getting Booker to 70 being the major one. They
cared so much about it teammates started fouling the C's to give the guard extra possessions to stuff his stat column, and head coach Earl Watson was calling timeouts to advance the ball in garbage time.
But that asks the question: how can you possibly put up 70 points and still be losing the game?
Well, he's not the only one. Of the 11 70+ point games, five were losses for the guy with the hot hand (3 of those to Wilt Chamberlain, who had six 70+ outings--seriously how do you lose half of the games where you light up for that many points?).
For Booker, he logged 45 minutes, and in addition to the big 70 in his scoring column, he also secured eight rebounds and dished out six assists. 24 of his points came at the charity stripe. But as far as advanced metrics go, it really wasn't nearly as good a night as the Suns sideline, and even fans watching, were led to believe:
For the casual fan who doesn't follow plus/minuses, basically per 100 possessions, Booker was more of a liability on the court for his team, and helped contribute to the loss more than he helped push his Suns to win.Devin Booker scored 70 points tonight and was somehow still a -6.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) March 25, 2017
That's quantified in defensive possessions (in addition to offensive), in which Booker had a pretty horrible night, allowing the C's to put up 130 on his squad.
Fans at the TD Garden seemed happy to see a show and still leave with the satisfaction of a win, but the Celtics themselves weren't as pleased.
Even Jae Crowder took a shot at Booker afterwards on Instagram as the Suns were posting their Wilt 100 impressions:Feel like Isaiah Thomas had the best perspective on how the end of Devin Booker's 70-point game played out: "It was weird." pic.twitter.com/wTr9bxr4EY— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) March 25, 2017
THE JAE CROWDER-DEVIN BOOKER BEEF IS SO REAL IN THE INSTAGRAM COMMENTS RIGHT NOW pic.twitter.com/I5g3NT142y— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) March 25, 2017
To me, I can't tell if that's a call to step up the defense or just take the kid out. There was obviously frustration among the Celtics. The game was essentially won, but the Suns were prolonging it just to give Booker a place in the record books.
And ultimately, even though it was an incredible performance from the 20-year-old, that's all it is. Another L for the Suns in a season where his team has given up.
Does that make it meaningless? That's for you to decide.
Follow Topher Lane on Twitter, @Topher_L. Photo credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports.