Sometimes, you’ve just got to lead by example. That was the case for Chris Paul today as he took control against the Indiana Pacers, who were visiting the Phoenix Suns and hoping to come away with a third-straight victory.
The Pacers, who had defeated the Lakers and Warriors prior to today’s matchup, had a faint glimmer of hope as they took a 25-24 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Suns took control of the game in the second and third quarter before the Pacers roared back in the fourth to make it a game. With just under four minutes left in the game, Indiana cut what had once been a 22-point Phoenix lead to 105-99 after going on a 23-7 scoring run.
Paul finished with 18 points, four rebounds, 16 assists and four steals with four turnovers. The strong performance on both ends of the court was vintage CP3, and again showed how important he is to the Suns’ title hopes, even at the age of 36.
It was sorely needed, too, as Devin Booker struggled mightily and finished with 11 points while shooting 5 of 23 from the field. Booker’s rough night was punctuated by an unfortunate end of the game. After blocking Chris Duarte, Booker got the ball and had an open lane and missed a dunk. He then followed that up by fouling a three-point shooter in Jeremy Lamb. Lamb made two of three free throws to complete a four-point swing. It was inconsequential to the end result, but showed just how crappy Booker’s night was.
Mikal Bridges benefited greatly from Paul’s play today, as he led the Suns in scoring with 23 points.
JaVale McGee continued to fill in for DeAndre Ayton admirably, with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks. Bismack Biyombo also had a huge game off the bench with 21 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, a steal and two blocks.
The Suns lost Jae Crowder for the game due to a left wrist injury, and they’ll be hopeful that it’s nothing major. For now, they’ll be happy with the win.