Suns Overcome Booker’s Ejection, Defeat Pistons 116-100

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, NBA News
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant led the Phoenix Suns with 25 points in a commanding 116-100 victory over the Detroit Pistons, despite the early exit of fellow NBA All-Star Devin Booker due to ejection.

This game marked Pistons coach Monty Williams‘ return to Phoenix for the first time since his tenure with the Suns, where he guided the team to the NBA Finals in 2021. Williams was honored with a video tribute and warmly received by fans before the game commenced.

Booker’s game was cut short just over five minutes following his second technical foul for disputing a call with the referees, leading to his automatic ejection. Suns coach Frank Vogel also received a technical for contesting Booker’s ejection in a game that saw many fouls, with Detroit accumulating 31.

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Durant expressed surprise over Booker’s quick ejection, attributing the referees’ strictness to a pregame altercation between Isaiah Stewart of the Pistons and Drew Eubanks of the Suns, which escalated to Stewart’s arrest for assault.

“Yeah it did, because he was talking to me,” Durant said. “I guess (Booker) said something that ticked the ref off, but they were on edge before the game anyway because of the situation and they thought it might escalate. I can see it from their perspective, but I just think the techs were too quick.”

Despite missing Bradley Beal due to a hamstring strain, the Suns saw contributions from Saben Lee with 16 points and Eric Gordon with 13 points. Jusuf Nurkic added a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Detroit’s Simone Fontecchio led his team with 18 points in a game where both teams utilized their entire available rosters ahead of the All-Star break.

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The Suns rapidly extended their lead following Booker’s ejection, finishing the first half with a commanding 70-41 advantage and at one point leading by 35 points. Phoenix capitalized on Detroit’s turnovers, with Durant and Gordon leading the charge in scoring.

“After Devin got thrown out, I knew our young guys didn’t understand what was about to happen,” Pistons coach Monty Williams said. “They got more physical and the game changed, we turned the ball over so many times and the momentum shifted right after that.”

The incident involving Stewart and Eubanks occurred before the game, with Stewart arrested for assault after a confrontation with Eubanks at the arena. Despite the altercation, Eubanks played, contributing six points and eight rebounds.

Durant called for focus on the game amidst the pregame incident, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a positive league atmosphere.

“Keep the game first. There’s a lot of noise,” Durant said. “It’s unfortunate what happened before the game. It’s supposed to be a brotherhood, but I also understand, dudes get into stuff. We try to avoid that in this league. Hopefully, we can move on from it. We all support Drew.”

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Williams reflected positively on his time with the Suns and his experience coaching the team, especially his collaboration with players like Devin Booker.

“Getting an opportunity to come (to Phoenix), the partnership I had with the players here in particular Devin, I think about how blessed I was to come here and coach this team,” Williams said before the game. “All the stuff that happened here was a treat.”

Looking ahead, the Pistons are set to face the Indiana Pacers, while the Suns will meet the Dallas Mavericks, both games scheduled for February 22.

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