While the Phoenix Suns have a new look, they still are powered by the same engine, and Devin Booker showed on the NBA’s opening night that he is ready to lead the charge again.
Booker and the Suns head into a road matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday after the All-Star guard scored 32 points, including the go-ahead score just inside of five minutes remaining, of a 108-104 victory Tuesday over the Golden State Warriors.
Kevin Durant scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Jusef Nurkic had 14 points with 14 rebounds for the Suns, who finished fourth in the Western Conference last season and bowed out of the playoffs in the second round when they were overcome by the eventual champion Denver Nuggets.
Durant was moved to the Suns at last season’s February trade deadline but played in just eight regular-season games with his new squad and all 11 playoff games. Nurkic arrived this summer in a three-team deal. Grayson Allen also went to the Suns in that trade and started Tuesday but did not score in 21 minutes.
Phoenix also landed Bradley Beal in the offseason, although he did not play Tuesday because of lower back tightness. The much-anticipated backcourt duo of Beal and Booker appears in line to make its debut Thursday.
While the Suns’ scoring potential is obvious, they held the host Warriors to 18 points in both the second and fourth quarters during the opener.
The Lakers were pitted against the champion Nuggets Tuesday, and while they rallied to within three points in the fourth quarter, they departed with a 119-107 defeat.
LeBron James had 21 points with eight rebounds, while Anthony Davis had 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Davis did not score in the second half, shooting 0 of 6 from the field.
The Lakers’ aging core pushed the team into the Western Conference finals last season, but getting that far this season will have plenty of obstacles, with the Nuggets and Suns most prominent in that challenge. James played just 29 minutes, well below the 35.5 he averaged last season.
At least the challenging first two games of the season will give Los Angeles an idea of where it stands among the better teams in the West.