Suns wallop Bulls, courtesy of Devin Booker’s 51-point explosion

While Zach LaVine still was trying to figure out a way to find his timing and end an eight-game shooting slump, Booker was showing the Bulls what a max-contract shooting guard should do, lighting them up despite playing only three quarters.

SHARE Suns wallop Bulls, courtesy of Devin Booker’s 51-point explosion
Suns guard Devin Booker drives past Bulls forward Patrick Williams during the first half of Wednesday’s game.

Suns guard Devin Booker drives past Bulls forward Patrick Williams during the first half of Wednesday’s game.

Ross D. Franklin/AP

PHOENIX — Bulls guard Zach LaVine didn’t flinch when discussing his recent shooting slump.

And why should he? He’s from the school of ‘‘shooters gotta shoot,’’ and he graduated summa cum laude.

‘‘I’m confident in what I do,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘I work at it every single day, and it’s coming. I’m going to keep taking those shots, and pretty soon I’ll be back to doing what I do.’’

It didn’t happen Wednesday against the Suns and guard Devin Booker.

All Booker did was steal the show, scoring 51 points in three quarters, as the Bulls (9-12) were throttled 132-113.

As for LaVine, he continued to be very un-LaVine-like in his shooting, going a respectable 7-for-15 from the field but only 1-for-6 from three-point range.

In the eight games leading into the matchup against the Suns — perhaps LaVine’s worst shooting slump in years — he had shot 57-for-153 (37%) from the field and 21-for-72 (29%) from three-point range. He had been even worse late in games, shooting only 17-for-49 (34.7%) in the fourth quarter, including 8-for-28 (28.6%) from three-point range.

To put that in perspective, during his breakout All-Star season in 2020-21, LaVine shot 50.7% from the field and 41.9% from three-point range and averaged 27.4 points.

That seemed like a long time ago with the way he had shot the ball through the second half of November.

In LaVine’s defense, he did have surgery on his left knee last spring — before the Bulls signed him to a five-year, $215 million max contract — so his usual summer workout program was compromised. But there’s also more going on than just rust.

LaVine had been asked about missing bunnies at the rim and his overall inconsistency several times this season and would give a generic answer about ‘‘getting closer.’’

He went into more detail about the topic when he was asked specifically whether it was mental or physical obstacles that he still was dealing with.

‘‘It’s just timing,’’’ LaVine said. ‘‘Nothing mental. I didn’t get to play — didn’t get to shoot — as much as I usually do [in the offseason], but it’s coming. It’s timing. There’s stretches I’m feeling like my old self and then other stretches where I’m trying to get that timing right.

‘‘But I’m not going to be too hard on myself. It’s frustrating because I don’t expect to be shooting like this. I hold myself to an extremely high standard. But I’ve got to understand that for me to get out of this, I’ve got to stay confident and continue to take my shots. I know that. I work too hard at this, so it’s going to come through and I’ll be getting back to what I do.’’

The problem Wednesday was a defense that allowed Booker to do what he does.

Like LaVine, Booker signed a contract extension during the summer, but his was a super-max deal that will pay him $224 million over four years.

All Booker did in the first half against the Bulls was go 10-for-14 from the field for 25 points. He then went 10-for-11 and scored 26 points in the third quarter.

‘‘[Booker] got too much in a rhythm, and when a guy like that gets hot, it’s too late,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘He gets it going, and it’s over.’’

Even with coach Billy Donovan trying everything he could to slow Booker down.

‘‘We threw everything at him,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘We trapped him, threw a box-and-one at him. He really, really got it going.’’

Donovan’s hope is that LaVine can follow suit — and soon.

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