After making his signature fade-away jumper in third quarter on Sunday, Chris Paul yelled: “I’m back!” Paul, who has been battling a shoulder injury, had 18 points and nine assists as the Suns defeated the Lakers 100-92 in Game 4 of their first-round series at Staples Center.
The Suns regained home-court advantage and tied the series at 2. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.
With Paul at his best, the Suns looked like a much different team on Sunday. Phoenix had six players in double figures, including getting 17 points apiece from Devin Booker and Jae Crowder.
“It felt good, man,” Paul said about playing well on the court. “You work all summer, all season to get here, and to not be able to give your team what you want to give them, and to have them out there sort of guarding me, knowing you are somewhat less than, it was a good feeling to be out there competing.”
Before the game, Paul, who scored in double-figures for the first time in this series on Sunday, talked with Suns head coach Monty Williams about the possibility of sitting out Game 4, which he discussed following the team’s victory.
“I’m just glad that me and coach got the relationship, where we can have that conversation,” Paul said. “We talked about it. I told the guys, I said, ‘I don’t know if it would be two minutes; I don’t know if would be 32 minutes, but I feel like I had to try to give you what I got.'”
Crowder knows the Suns need Paul, and according to him, things are just better with Paul on the court.
“Everything clicks a little better with 3 on the court and 3 being himself,” Crowder said. “That’s vocally, that’s him being vocal with our units. That’s him making plays with the ball in his hands, and I feel like we feed off of that.”
Paul seems like he’s back, but the Lakers’ Anthony Davis could be out. Davis injured his groin in the second quarter on Sunday and did not return.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Davis is day-to-day, and his status for Game 5 is uncertain at this time.
If the Lakers don’t have Davis going forward, they can’t win this series, and if Paul is not right for Suns, they also can’t win this series, so this series could come down to which team is the healthiest. Phoenix has two of the final three games of this series in their building, so on paper, that’s an advantage. We’ll see which team will be good enough to take two out of the final three.
LeBron James had 25 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists on Sunday.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Paul and James both led their teams Sunday in points and assists. It was the first game in NBA history in which two players, age 35 or older, led their team in points and assists (regular season or playoffs).
-Deandre Ayton had 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds in Game 4. Ayton is averaging 19.8 points and 13.5 rebounds per game in this series.