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NBA Saturday: Devin Booker Makes History

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Devin Booker Scores 70 Points Against Boston Celtics

Jahlil Okafor, Mario Hezonja, Willie Cauley-Stein, Emmanuel Mudiay, Stanley Johnson, Frank Kaminsky and Trey Lyles are just some of the players that were selected ahead of Devin Booker in the 2015 NBA Draft. Selected 13th overall by the Phoenix Suns, Booker quickly earned a reputation for being a gifted scorer at the NBA level and surely has many general managers second-guessing their decision to pass on him in the draft. However, it’s likely safe to say that even Booker’s biggest fans never imagined that he would ever be able to do what he did last night – dropping 70 points on the Boston Celtics.

Booker posted 70 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and shot 21-40 from the field, 4-11 from three-point range and 24-26 from the free throw line. He became just the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 points or more in a single game, joining Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor and Kobe Bryant.

“This doesn’t happen very often,” Booker after his historic performance. “Especially against a really good defensive team like the Boston Celtics. I knew I was going to have to come in, lock in mentally tonight — playing at Boston isn’t easy all the time. They made it tough for me in the first half, and I tried to get it going. I was ultra-aggressive, my teammates started finding me, they started setting really good screens for me and the rest is history.”

Booker broke several team and league records on his way to 70 points – many of them relating to the fact that Booker is still just 20 years old.

“It’s basketball,” Booker said. “I’m not coming to any arena just happy to be there, trying to be liked. I don’t care about being liked. I really don’t care, to be honest with you. We’re coming in here, we’re trying to build something with this young group. If people don’t like us, why we build it, so what? Do something about it. Simple as that.”

The Celtics ended up with the win, but were not amused by the fact that the Phoenix Suns were helping Booker chase stats, especially when the game was effectively over.

“It was weird what they were doing,” Thomas said. “I’ve never seen nothing like that, chasing those numbers. But it is what it is.

“I don’t think anybody’s ever seen that. To continue to call timeouts, continue to foul when we’re up 15. But it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him the most points possible. And hats off to him, though. He played a hell of a game.”

Suns head coach Earl Watson didn’t seem to have any regrets in helping Booker reach this historic feat.

“It’s about letting our kids be great. You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”

In case you missed it, the NBA’s official twitter account provided a recap of Booker’s night, which you can watch here:

Los Angeles Lakers Unveil Statue of Shaquille O’Neal

On Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers unveiled a statue at Staple Center to honor the career of Hall-of-Fame center Shaquille O’Neal.

O’Neal played for the Lakers for eight seasons. He averaged 27 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.5 blocks per game while shooting 57.5 percent from the field and 53.3 percent from the free throw line. Along with Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson and other key figures, O’Neal helped lead the Lakers to three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. O’Neal and Bryant arguably could have won several more championships together. However, internal conflicts with Bryant and others, O’Neal’s injuries and his public desire for another big payday led to him being traded to the Miami HEAT in 2004 in exchange for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and a future first-round draft choice, which was eventually used on Jordan Farmar in the 2006 NBA Draft.

Despite the controversial exit from Los Angeles, time has healed many of these old wounds, as exhibited by the statue unveiling and the words spoken at the ceremony.

“Brother, thank you,” O’Neal said to Bryant during his speech. “We pushed each other. We had our battles. We had our times. We always had respect for each other, and we were able to win three championships. Definitely couldn’t have done it without you. I appreciate you very much.”

Joakim Noah To Be Suspended For 20 Games For Violating Anti-Drug Program

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, who first reported this story, the NBA is suspending New York Knicks center Joakim Noah 20 games for violating its anti-drug program.

Noah reportedly tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. Noah will serve 10 games of the suspension to close out this season and will serve the other 10 games at the beginning of next season.

Noah signed a four-year, $72 million deal with the New York Knicks this season to become the team’s defensive anchor at center. Unfortunately, Noah only managed to play in 46 games this season while averaging five points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 0.8 blocks. Noah underwent knee surgery in February, which ended his season prematurely.

Noah was selected with the ninth pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. He is a two-time NBA All-Star (2013 and 2014), won Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and was the emotional leader of the Chicago Bulls for many years under head coach Tom Thibodeau. Noah seems to have lost the athleticism and mobility that made him such an effective defensive player earlier in his career, which is going to be a major issue for the Knicks after they invested so much money into signing him. If Noah bounces back from his most recent surgery and is able to come even relatively close to the player he used to be with Chicago, he could become an asset for the Knicks. But considering his level of play over the last few seasons, the number of injuries he has suffered throughout the course of his career and how hard Thibodeau pushed him, it’s unfortunately hard to believe that he’ll be able to do so.

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About Jesse Blancarte

Jesse Blancarte

Jesse Blancarte is a Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders. He is also an Attorney and a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.