Kevin Durant and Devin Booker are leading the way for Phoenix as they take a 3-1 lead in the first-round playoff series over the LA Clippers; however, at crunch time in the fourth quarter, it was Chris Paul who stepped up for the Suns who beat the LA Clippers 112-100.
The questions surrounding Chris Paul have already started to surface, and we are not even to game five of the first round of the playoffs. Historically, the playoffs have been the time of year when the ball bounces the wrong way or some calamity befalls Paul, and his season ends in disappointment. After a split in Phoenix and questions surrounding whether or not Paul had an injured hand, it was vintage CP3 down the stretch to help the Suns beat the Clippers 112-100 and take a stranglehold on their first-round Western Conference playoff series.
The Suns again got off to a sluggish start against LA
It was another game without Kawhi Leonard for the Clippers, and Phoenix needed to take advantage. Unfortunately, the Suns again started slowly, shooting only 28% in the first quarter. Fortunately, Phoenix got LA into foul trouble early and leveraged the Bonus to take 11 first-quarter free throws.
As a result of the Suns’ aggressiveness on offense, the team was able to survive the poor shooting. KD was just 1 of 3 from the field but still managed 7 points, thanks to going 5 of 6 at the charity stripe. Booker was the only Sun who could see the rim in the first quarter managing 11 points, but he still only shot 44% himself, going 4 of 9.
Down by seven after the first quarter, the Suns amped up the defensive intensity in the second quarter, holding LA to just 17 points. There was even a Deandre Ayton sighting in the second period, as our center scored six of his 15 points.
The Suns start the second half slow but finish in style behind stars
Up a point going into the second half, the Suns wanted to come out and put the game away. An alley-oop, two lay-ups, and a three-pointer would likely have done that, but the Clippers made those plays as part of a nine-zero run to open the third quarter. With the Suns seemingly on the rope, our big guns stepped up.
After Paul stopped the bleeding and Ayton settled the crowd, D-Book went to work, going on a person 8-3 run as part of his 11 points in the quarter. Following Booker’s breakout, the floor opened up a bit more for Durant, who went to work, scoring 12 points in the final six minutes of the quarter to leave the Suns with a five-point lead going into the final period.
Paul again priceless in the fourth quarter for Phoenix
With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, Paul came alive to seal the deal for Phoenix. After going 3 of 8 through three quarters, Paul came through by going 5 of 9 in the fourth, scoring a team-high 12 points in the quarter. One of those five included a ridiculous fall-away two-pointer when CP3 wrongly thought the shot clock was going off. As everyone looked at Paul in bewilderment, all the aging star could do was laugh and know it was his day.
When Paul was not scoring in the fourth, he was dishing the rock, handing out three of his team-high nine assists in the final period, all with no turnovers. Paul finished with 19, Durant had 31 points and 11 boards, and Booker added 30 points and 9 rebounds.
The Suns will look to close out the Clippers on Tuesday evening back in Phoenix after sweeping LA to take a three-games-to-one lead.