When the NBA announced its format for resuming the 2019-20 season inside the Disney World bubble, almost everyone was confused about why the Phoenix Suns were invited. No one's questioning that decision anymore. Thanks to some heroics from Devin Booker, they're now 3-0 in Orlando, and are suddenly right in the hunt for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Early on Tuesday evening, they won a thriller over the Los Angeles Clippers, 117-115. After a back-and-forth final few minutes, Phoenix had the ball with 31.3 seconds left, and a chance to take the lead. But when Ricky Rubio's effort missed the mark, it seemed their opportunity had gone. But Mikal Bridges came up with a huge steal and gave them another look. Booker didn't waste it.
Taking the ball at the top of the key, Booker drove to his left and wanted to pull up for a jumper. Kawhi Leonard was right there, however, and forced him to spin around and launch a tough fadeaway over the outstretched arm of Paul George. The Clippers couldn't have defended the play any better, but it didn't matter. Booker caught all net to give the Suns the win.
The clutch shot capped off a terrific day for Booker, who finished with 35 points, four rebounds and eight assists on 13 of 25 from the field. He's now averaging 30.6 points per game inside the bubble. Since he entered the league back in 2015, Booker now has three game-winning buzzer-beaters. That's tied with LeBron James for the most in the league in that span.
With the win, the Suns are now up to 29-39 on the season, and are suddenly right in the mix for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. They still have all sorts of work to do but are now three games back of the Memphis Grizzlies, which puts them within the margin to force a play-in tournament. And they're only one game back of the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs for ninth place.
The odds are still against them with that many teams to pass, especially with a tough remaining schedule that has them playing the Pacers, Heat, Thunder, 76ers and Mavericks the rest of the way. But all of those games are going to mean something now, which no one expected a few weeks ago.