Connect with us

Phoenix Suns

Devin Booker has no harsh feelings after altercation with Cam Whitmore

The Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets played each other for the second time in the span of eight days yesterday, so of course some chippiness was involved.

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!

Last night, Phoenix prevailed with a 110-105 home victory to avenge last week’s 114-110 defeat in Houston.

Things got most heated with just under seven minutes to go when Devin Booker and rookie Cam Whitmore, who had been talking to each other all game, started a scuffle. Booker, who finished with a game-high 35 points, was walking down the court after making his sixth 3 of the night and bumped shoulders with Whitmore. Pushing and jawing ensued on the other end of the floor. Both Booker and Whitmore received technicals for the incident.

“I think it’s always fun to turn it up a little bit,” Booker said in his postgame interview of the altercation. “Getting ultra-competitive. That’s what this sport’s about. I feel like we’re getting away from it, as a whole NBA. Nothing personal, just competition.”

In his postgame press conference, Booker went more in depth on what caused the strain between the two.

“It started last game, same thing,” Booker said. “Just competing, being extra physical. I like it. I’ve been in these situations plenty of times before. I was that same young player doing that same thing. I remember doing that to Jimmy Butler my rookie year.

“You never want to back down, and I respect going at a top player. You just got to be ready for it.”

On the very next possession, Suns’ center Jusuf Nurkić blocked Whitmore twice and forced a jump ball. Nurkić did not mince words about the incident.

“The kid did some some bulls— in Houston too, if you remember,” Nurkić said. “They want to play the nonsense basketball. I understand they’re young, and they got to get fired up. They have a good coach, and I think they have a great set up for the future, but we don’t want to play the antics basketball. I want to always have the back of my teammates.”

Booker said it was “very important” for Nurkić to respond like that on the defensive end.

“Your team sticking together, that goes a long way,” Booker said “That’s what you need when things get tough, and when things get to the thick of things, and the energies are high. You want to know you have people on your team that are built like that for you.”

Just a minute of game time after this incident, Rockets’ center Alperen Sengun was ejected for arguing with the officials. The Rockets later went into a “hack-a-Nurkić” strategy, intentionally fouling the Suns’ big man twice when he didn’t even have the ball. Nurkić struggled from the line on the night, going 8-for-16, and compared himself to Shaquille O’Neal after the game. Teams infamously used this strategy, coined “hack-a-Shaq,” against O’Neal, as he was not a good free throw shooter.

“I love it,” Nurkić said of the fouling. “I hope they do that every game. Sixteen free throws, I’ll take it. I’ve showed that I’m not really Shaq like tonight. Obviously, I was definitely Shaq tonight, 8-for-16. Hopefully, they do that next game too.”

Nurkić later added that teams are purposely physical with the Suns.

“It’s the Phoenix Suns, I guess there’s not a lot of teams who can have talent like that and beat us with straight up talent,” Nurkić said. “A lot of teams try to play extra physical, and you have to answer the right way.”

These two teams meet again on Saturday, but Booker said there will be no extra motivation in terms of composure despite these incidents.

“We don’t need it,” Booker said. “We lost to them last game and didn’t want to after a tough back-to-back. Having three days to rest after and to get ready for this one. Obviously it gives it a playoff feel, you’re playing a team three times in one week.”

Phoenix Suns Prevail in Defensive Battle Against Rockets

*Get the BEST Phoenix sports insider information, exclusive content, and access to our seasonal magazines! SIGN UP HERE to unlock our premium content!*

Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

More in Phoenix Suns