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Suns' Devin Booker requests Raptors' mascot removal for distraction in nearly empty arena

Suns' Devin Booker requests Raptors' mascot removal for distraction in nearly empty arena
The Raptor was asked to move away from the basket for distracting Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker on Tuesday in Toronto. File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker motioned for the rival mascot to be ejected from a nearly empty arena for distracting him during a free throw attempt in the final seconds of a win over the Toronto Raptors.

The incident occurred with about 6.5 seconds left in the Suns' 99-95 triumph Tuesday at Scoitabank Arena in Toronto. No fans are allowed in the arena due to COVID-19 rules put in place by the Ontario government.

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The Suns led 93-92 when Booker stepped up to the line. He fired his first attempt, which hit off the front and back of the rim and went through the net.

Booker then pointed behind the basket, where the Raptors' dinosaur-inspired mascot -- The Raptor -- stood in the stands. The Raptor was caught on camera as it jumped during Booker's release and attempted to force him to miss the shot.

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Booker called over a nearby official and waved his arms, motioning to get the mascot removed. The official sent the mascot to the corner of the arena and Booker made his second attempt.

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The Raptors cut the Suns lead to 95-94 when Khem Birch made two free throws on the next possession, but Suns guard Chris Paul pushed the lead back to three points with two more free throws and the Suns held on for the victory.

Booker scored 16 points in the win. Suns guard Jae Crowder scored a team-high 19 points. Raptors guard OG Anunoby scored a game-high 25 points in the loss. Chris Boucher totaled 13 points and 16 rebounds off the Raptors bench.

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Booker was asked about the mascot exchange at his postgame news conference.

"We hashed it out," Booker told reporters. "We are homies now. We're cool now. I was just trying to get him out of the way. I would rather be shooting without him down there."

The Suns (31-9) face the Indiana Pacers (15-26) at 7 p.m. EST Friday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Raptors (20-18) battle the Detroit Pistons (9-31) at 7 p.m. Friday at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

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