After a bloody collision with Patrick Beverley on Tuesday left his face stitched and swollen, Devin Booker said trainers didn't initially believe he'd suffered a broken nose.
It was "just a little crooked," he told ESPN's Rachel Nichols after Tuesday's Phoenix Suns win.
Postgame pictures suggested otherwise. And X-rays later confirmed. Booker told Nichols prior to Thursday's Western Conference Game 3 against the Los Angeles Clippers that he indeed broke his nose in three places. The Suns sharpshooter arrived prepared with protection, and will wear a mask during gameplay for the foreseeable future.
Will mask impact Devin Booker's performance?
The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears reported on Thursday that former Detroit Pistons guard Rip Hamilton told him that Booker reached out for advice on how to play with a mask. Hamilton twice suffered a broken nose and famously wore a mask during Detroit's run to the NBA championship in 2004. The mask became his on-court trademark, and he continued to wear one until the end of his NBA career in 2013.
Per Spears, Hamilton told Booker to never take his mask off during a game and to treat it as extra eye protection when driving through contact.
The break and the mask arrive at a tough time for Booker as the Suns entered Thursday two wins away from a trip to the NBA Finals. Booker was playing the best basketball of his career prior to the break. How he adjusts to wearing a mask will be critical to Phoenix's chances of winning the NBA championship.
Game 3 wasn't an encouraging sign. Booker shot 5-of-21 from the field and 1-of-7 from 3-point distance for 15 points in a 106-92 Clippers win.
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