Phoenix Suns legendary point guard Chris Paul made history in the team’s 115-105 victory over the Lakers at Staples Center on Friday night.
Coming into the game against the Lakers, Paul needed seven points to become the first player in NBA history to amass 20,000 points and 10,000 assists. The 11-time All-Star, who was also named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team this week, hit the milestone with a free throw in the second quarter.
Paul, who finished Friday’s game with 23 points, 14 assists, and five rebounds, was clutching the game ball at the post game press conference after Phoenix’s first victory of the season.
“When you get done playing this game,” Paul said. “Sometimes, you want to have things(game ball) to remember things. I’m going to keep this for sure.”
‘The first player ever,” Suns’ Devin Booker interjected. “That’s the crazy part about it… It’s inspiring, and I tell him daily, I was a fan before we were teammates, so I give him his flowers daily, and he deserves that. I think a lot of people wait until somebody retires or wait until their career is over to tell them certain type things. I get to say that often to him; that’s inspiring.”
The closest players to the 20,000 points and 10,000 assists mark were John Stockton(289 points short), Oscar Robertson(113 assists short), and Gary Payton(1034 assists short). Among active players, LeBron James(294 assists short) could get there this season, and Russell Westbrook(1926 assists short) may get there soon.
Paul is a fantastic player and arguably one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. At age 36, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Phoenix travels to Portland to battle the Trailblazers on Saturday night.
Watch below as Paul and Booker react to Paul’s record and the team’s first victory of the season:
Chris Paul is back in Phoenix with the Suns, and now they try to complete what they started last season. With the return of Paul, Phoenix is running it back and trying to get back to the NBA Finals.
Last season, the Suns lost to the Bucks in 6 in the NBA Finals after blowing a 2-0 series lead.
At 36, Paul signed a four-year, $120 million contract with the Suns this offseason, and according to the 11-time All-Star, returning to Phoenix was an easy decision.
“It was an easy decision, though,” Paul said about returning to Phoenix. “This is close to my family, and this became my family last year. Not only being here in Phoenix was fun basketball-wise, but it was fun as far as life. Being around these guys, those of you that work know that anytime you go to work and you don’t feel like you’re at work and you really get a chance to enjoy what you’re doing, it’s always a nice feeling. So doing that here with the team that we had, the coaching staff, I wanted to come back.”
Obviously, anytime you get to the Finals, the expectation the following season is to get right back there, and Paul was asked about the expectations for the team this season.
“Man, I think our expectations is to come in and start the process over again,” Paul said. “We got to work, day one. It’s not like you come into this season and be like, ‘Alright, playoffs is set. We’re going to start where we were last year.’ No, there’s a lot of things we can get better at, and we want to get better at. And that’s the whole fun part of the season. Getting as far as we did was cool and well, but when we all saw each other, we were basically reminiscing on the process, all the moments that got us there.”
Getting back to the Finals won’t be easy. The Western Conference opened up for Phoenix last season. The Lakers were banged up in the first round, Denver was not healthy in the second round, and the Clippers limped into the Western Conference finals, so things worked out in Phoenix’s favor.
However, the Suns still has a very good basketball team, and they have Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton, and in the offseason, they added JaVale McGee, Elfrid Payton, and Landry Shamet.
Will it be enough? Not sure; the Lakers, Nuggets, Clippers, Jazz, and Warriors will be strong this season, so a return to the Finals may not happen for the Suns, but Phoenix will definitely be in the mix.
Watch as Paul talks during Suns’ Media Day:
The Phoenix Suns re-signed point guards Chris Paul and Cameron Payne, the team announced on Friday.
Paul, 36, reportedly signed a four-year, $120 million deal, while Payne, 26, inked a reported three-year deal worth $19 million.
In his first season with the Suns in 2020-21, the 16-year veteran finished fifth in NBA MVP voting and was an All-NBA Second Team selection, helping the Suns win the Western Conference title. In 70 regular-season games, he averaged 16.4 points, 8.9 assists (3rd in the NBA).
In 20 playoff games during the Suns’ run to the NBA Finals, Paul averaged 19.2 points and 8.6 assists, shooting 49.7% from the field and 44.6% from three-point range.
Paul ranks fifth in NBA history in career assists (10,275) and career steals (2,332), with both marks being the highest among all active players, and he is 22 points shy of becoming the first player in NBA history with at least 20,000 points and 10,000 assists.
Payne averaged 8.4 points and 3.6 assists in a career-high 60 games with the Suns this past season, shooting 48% from the field, 44% from three-point range (ranking 10th in the NBA), and 89% from the free-throw line.
The six-year veteran averaged 9.3 points and 3.2 assists in 22 games during the Suns’ playoff run to the NBA Finals. In a Game 2 win over the LA Clippers in the Western Conference Finals, he scored a career-best 29 points in addition to nine assists and zero turnovers.
Payne initially joined the Suns before the ‘Bubble’ in 2020 as he averaged 10.9 points during the team’s 8-0 run to close out the 2019-20 season in Florida.
He has appeared in 221 career regular-season games with Oklahoma City, Chicago, Cleveland, and the Suns, holding career averages of 6.8 points and 2.8 assists.
The Suns also re-signed Abdel Nader to a reported two-year. $4 million deal, which they also announced on Friday.
The Suns are hoping to get back to the NBA Finals, which won’t be easy considering how tough the Western Conference will be next season. However, bringing Paul and Payne back will help their cause.
Chris Paul finally made it to the NBA Finals in Year 16 of his career, but unfortunately for him and the Suns, the season ended without winning an NBA title.
Phoenix fell to the Bucks in Game 6 of the NBA Finals 105-98 at Fiserv Forum on Tuesday and would lose the series 4-2 after having a 2-0 series lead.
No one expected the Suns to get to this point. They missed the playoffs last season but added Chris Paul and Jae Crowder to the mix, and they were able to have the second-best record in the NBA, and ultimately, they made it to the Finals.
Paul, who had 26 points and five assists on Tuesday night, knows this loss will hurt for some time.
“It’s tough,” he said. “Great group of guys, hell of a season, but this one is going to hurt for a while.”
Even though the Suns got to the Finals, which is good, Paul is not satisfied.
“For me, it just means back to work. Back to work. Nothing more, nothing less,” he said. “Ain’t no moral victories or whatnot. We sort of saw what it takes to get there, and hopefully, we see what it takes to get past that…
“Everybody in that locker room knows we had enough, but it wasn’t enough. So, we got to figure it out. I think for me, I just look at myself and figure out how can I get better, what I could have done more, and make sure I come back next season ready to do it again.”
The 11-time All-Star can opt-out of his contract. Paul is scheduled to make $44.2 million next season if he decides to opt-in. No matter what he decides, the 36-year-old point guard says he will play next season.
“I mean, it will take a while to process this or whatnot, but it’s same mentality, get back to work,” he said. “I ain’t retiring… That’s out. So, back to work.”
Phoenix could have a hard time getting back to the Finals. The Lakers, Jazz, Warriors, Clippers(if they re-sign Kawhi Leonard), and Nuggets will be formidable in the Western Conference.
However, the Suns have a star in Devin Booker and a budding star in Deandre Ayton, but Paul was the difference. If he does come back, Phoenix can still contend. If he doesn’t, that’s a big blow for this team. We’ll see what happens in the offseason, but Suns have built a winning culture, and we shall see if they can build on the success they had this season.
After one quarter in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, it appeared the Phoenix Suns would blow out the Milwaukee Bucks. Phoenix led 37-21 after the first quarter and were rolling. However, the Bucks dominated the second and third quarters. Milwaukee outscored the Suns 79-56 in those two quarters, and shot a combined 71.1 percent (32-of-45) while knocking down 10 of their 14 threes.
Phoenix battled back in the fourth quarter, but Milwaukee held on to win Game 5 123-119 at Footprint Center.
The Bucks took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the Suns cut the lead to 120-119. With 16.9 seconds left in the contest and a chance for Phoenix to take the lead, Jrue Holiday would make the play of the game when he stripped Devin Booker, threw an alley-oop pass to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who dunked the ball and was fouled by Chris Paul. Antetokounmpo would miss the free throw, but Khris Middleton would secure the offensive rebound and make one of two free throws to put the game away.
Holiday, who shot 12-of-20 from the floor and scored 14 of his 27 points in the second quarter and added a game-high 13 assists, was remarkable for Milwaukee on both ends of the court on Saturday night. He is a big reason why Milwaukee is one game away from winning their first NBA title in 50 years.
“Big-time steal,” Antetokounmpo, who had 32 points and nine rebounds in Game 5, said postgame about Holiday’s play on Booker. “Showing a crowd, they didn’t get to the spot, and he came from behind and ripped the ball out. He can go down to the other end and just, you know, go for like a full play, run the clock down. But he trusted me and made an incredible pass, also, for the lob. It was big time. It was a big-time play. It was the winning play of the game.”
Holiday added on the steal on Booker: “I feel like we knew Booker wanted to take that last shot and played great defense on him and made him turn his back, and he turned right into me. I guess I was just in the right place at the right time.”
As the Suns examine Game 5, they will look at the second quarter. Phoenix was outscored 43-24 in that quarter. Booker, who scored a game-high 40 points on Saturday night after scoring 42 in Game 4, talked about the second quarter.
“It was tough,” he said. “We came out and did what we intended to do, get off to a great start, and we let it go. They stayed resilient, and they kept playing through. So, tough loss for us.”
After being up 2-0, the Suns have lost three straight, something they have not done since January. Phoenix has not faced elimination at any point in these playoffs until now. As Suns head coach Monty Williams says, “Everything you want is on the other side of hard.”
So, Phoenix has to find a way in Game 6 in Milwaukee on Tuesday night if they want to keep their season alive.
-With his 40 points on Saturday night, Booker has now scored 582 points this postseason. He joins Dwyane Wade as the only two players in NBA history to score 580-plus points in one postseason while under the age of 25.
-Game 5 marked just the second time in NBA Finals history of consecutive quarters with a scoring margin of at least 15 points (Suns outscored the Bucks 37-21 in the 1st quarter, while Milwaukee outscored Phoenix 43-24).
-The Suns outscored Milwaukee 66-44 in the first and fourth quarters combined.
-Chris Paul turned in his first double-double performance of the Finals, and his fourth of this postseason tonight, scoring 21 points to go along with a team-high 11 assists. Paul knocked down all three of his three-point attempts on the evening.
-Middleton scored 20 of his 29 points in the second half tonight while adding 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Middleton shot 12-of-23 on the night and knocked down 3 of his 8 three-point attempts.
If the Phoenix Suns fall short in the NBA Finals, they might look back at Game 4. Phoenix built a nine-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but Devin Booker, who had a bounce-back game with 42 points after scoring 10 points on Sunday, had to leave with his fifth foul with over 11 minutes left in the fourth.
When Booker returned midway through the fourth, the Suns still had a three-point lead, but Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton turned it on. He scored 14 of his 40 points in the final quarter, including the game-winner with just over a minute left in the contest as Milwaukee defeated Phoenix 109-103 at Fiserv Forum on Wednesday night to tie the series up at 2.
“As far as the fourth quarter, late in the fourth quarter, we just ran sets that allowed me to get to my spots,” Middleton said. “After that, I just got to make reads. Whether to shoot, whether to find an open guy, Giannis(Antetokounmpo) on a roll. It’s just reading the defense at that point. Just luckily, thankfully, I hit some shots.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo added on Middleton: “But that’s what he does down the stretch. We want him to have the ball. We want him to be the decision-maker. We know he’s going to take big shots, and tonight he was incredible.”
It was not all about Middleton in the fourth. With the Bucks up 101–99 late in the game, Antetokounmpo, who had 26 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists in Game 4, made the defensive play of the game and maybe the series. Booker threw an alley-oop pass to Deandre Ayton, and the first-team all-defensive player made a fantastic block, which saved the game and maybe the series for the Bucks.
“Just a hustle play,” Antetokounmpo said on the block. “I thought I was going to get dunked on, to be honest with you. But you know, going down the stretch, do whatever it takes to win the game. Just put yourself in a position that can win the game. I saw the play coming. I saw that Chris(Devin Booker) was going to throw the lob, and I was just going to jump vertical toward the rim. Hopefully, I can be there in time, and I was there in time and was able to get a good block and go down and get two points. So it was a great hustle play.”
While Booker shined for Phoenix, Chris Paul struggled. He had 10 points(5/13 shooting), seven assists, and five turnovers. The most significant turnover was with 32.4 seconds left and the Suns trailing 101-99. Paul would lose the ball, and ultimately Middleton would put the game away with a layup in transition.
“It was me. I had five of them,” Paul said about the turnovers. “It was bad decision making. That time we were down two, and I tried to cross over right there, slipped, turned it over. I had some bad passes in the first half.”
Game 5 is Saturday night in Phoenix. It’s the best of three at this point. The Suns had an excellent opportunity to win Game 4 and wasted an outstanding performance by Booker, but now they go back to Phoenix and hope to get right. For the Bucks, they have been in an 0-2 hole before and know what it takes to get out of it.
-Antetokounmpo left the game at the 8:29 mark of the first quarter in Game 4. The reason why? He had to “tinkle.”
“How do you guys say politely? I wanted to take a tinkle. A tinkle,” he said. “I wanted to take a tinkle and came back (laughter). That’s polite, right?
-According to Elias Sports, Booker had the most points in Finals history by a player with 10 or fewer points in the previous game.
Phoenix Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker struggled in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Booker shot 3/14 from the field and finished with 10 points. Ultimately, the Suns fell to the Bucks 120-100 on Sunday night.
Phoenix leads the series 2-1. Game 4 is on Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
In the postseason, when Booker struggles in a game, he usually comes back more potent in the next contest. After shooting 6/14 and scoring 17 points against the Lakers in Game 4 of their first-round series, Booker had a 30-point game in Game 5 and a 47-point explosion in the closeout game. In Game 2 against Denver in the Western Conference semifinals, Booker shot 6/14 and finished with 18 points. In the next two games in that series, Booker had a combined 62 points.
“Short memory,” Booker said during Finals media availability on Tuesday. “Just move on. Been there before. So just understanding that understanding the game, understanding situations that you’ve been through, and just trusting the work that you’ve put in, as simple as that. But my main objective out there is to win the basketball game.”
Deandre Ayton, who had 18 points and nine rebounds in Game 3, but was saddled with foul trouble, believes Booker will bounce back in Game 4.
“Yeah, he gets pretty scary after that,” Ayton said. “Just knowing his mentality and knowing that games like that don’t really slow him down. We know it was just one of those games, but I know he’ll step up, and as a team, we’ll step up, as well.”
According to Chris Paul, it’s just not on Booker; everybody has to play better.
“I think it’s more like what’s our team like,” Paul said. “This ain’t golf. It’s not tennis. You know what I mean? We’re all in this together. So everybody on our team took the loss hard, as we should. We never go into a game expecting to lose. If you showed me, somebody who expects to lose, I’ll show you a loser. So everybody on our team felt a way. We felt like we could be better. That’s why we used yesterday, we’ll use today to prepare, and we’ll all come out ready to play tomorrow.”
Booker has to be better for the Suns to win in Milwaukee, and history tells us he will bounce back. If he struggles in Game 4, this series will probably be tied at two, heading back to Phoenix for Game 5.
The Phoenix Suns are now two games away from winning their first NBA title after defeating the Bucks 118-108 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on Thursday night.
Devin Booker scored a team-high 31 points tonight to go along with five rebounds and six assists. Booker knocked down seven three-pointers on 12 attempts, while Mikal Bridges scored a playoff career-high 27 points in Game 2 on 8-of-15 shooting (3-of-9 3FG) to go along with seven rebounds.
The Suns are 11-1 this postseason when Bridges scores in double figures.
Chris Paul, who had 23 points, eight assists, and four rebounds on Thursday night, believes Bridges is a winner.
“He’s a winner,” Paul said. “When we won the Western Conference finals, I looked at him, and I had a flashback of him being at Villanova. I remember him winning a championship there. He’s just a winner. He’s going to do whatever you need him to do, offensively or defensively, and it’s good to see him playing like this.”
The Suns knocked down 20 three-pointers on 40 attempts on Thursday night. It marked just the third time in NBA Finals history that a team has made 20 threes or more in a Finals game. Additionally, the 20 threes marked a franchise record for threes in a postseason game.
Phoenix led by as many as 11 points in the first half and as much as 15 points in the third quarter, and then Giannis Antetokounmpo came alive. The two-time MVP scored 20 of his game-high 42 points in the quarter and was able to get the lead to as low as five points in third, but it wasn’t enough. Antetokounmpo also added a team-high 12 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks.
Game 3 is Sunday night in Milwaukee.
The Bucks are down 0-2 in this series, and they have been here before in the second round against Brooklyn, and ultimately, they were able to win that series in 7, so Antetokounmpo is still confident.
“We’ve been here before, and we were able to get the job done,” Antetokounmpo said. “Hopefully, we can put ourselves in position, and we can believe in one another, and we can play together, and we can have fun. We can compete, and we can dive on the floor, we can make shots, put ourselves in a position to win the game. But like we know what the deal is, man. Like we got to go back home and protect home.”
The series does not start until the road team wins, so let’s see what happens in Milwaukee.
-According to Stathead, Antetokounmpo became just the fourth player in NBA Finals history to record 40-plus points, 10-plus rebounds and 3-plus blocks in a Finals game, joining Shaquille O’Neal (3 times), LeBron James and Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
In addition, Antetokounmpo got to the free throw line 18 times, knocking down 11 of them. It marked the most free throw attempts by a single player in an NBA Finals game since June 7, 2015 (LeBron James).
-Deandre Ayton recorded his fifth-straight double-double tonight and 13th of the postseason, notching 10 points and 11 rebounds to go along with four assists and a game-high three steals. With his double-double tonight, Ayton moved into sole possession of second place for the most double-doubles in one postseason by a Suns player in franchise history, trailing only Charles Barkley’s mark of 22 during the 1993 playoffs.
The Phoenix Suns are in the NBA Finals because of their big three of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton, and those three were huge in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Bucks on Monday night at Phoenix Suns Arena.
Paul had 32 points and nine assists, Booker scored 27 points, and Deandre Ayton added 22 points and 19 rebounds as the Suns defeated the Buck 118-105.
Phoenix had six players in double figures.
The trio combined for 81 points, each scoring 20-plus points. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, tonight marked the fourth time in NBA Finals history that three or more teammates, each making their Finals debut, scored 20-plus points in the same game.
The third quarter was all about Paul, who was 6/7 from the field, including 3/3 from three-point range to score 16 points. After leading by eight points at halftime, the Suns were able to push their lead to as much as 20 points in the third because of Paul.
“When it’s going like that, you just want to space the floor well and let him orchestrate,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said about Paul after the game. “I thought he was making the right plays. They were switching a ton, and we have to offer that space and play faster if he gets off of the ball. But he was making shots, and when he’s in that mode, we just feed off of that. But I don’t have a marker or a segment in the game where I’m like, here he goes. It just happens. Our guys feed off of those moments in the game.”
Phoenix had a lot of success on the pick-and-roll, and according to Booker, the Suns wanted to take advantage of any switches on defense from Milwaukee.
“We have to punish teams for switching 1 through 5 like that,” Booker said. “Like I just heard Chris say, we prepare for any type of defense, and we watch a lot of basketball, and where we have been most successful in that situation is space out. So, every time he(Paul) shoots it, we think it’s going in.”
Paul added: “We just feed off of each other, and it just sort of all game long — this guy, that guy, and we just try to find a way to win.”
Milwaukee did get Giannis Antetokounmpo back for Game 1 of the NBA Finals after he missed the last two games of the Eastern Conference finals due to a hyperextended left knee. Antetokounmpo had 20 points and 17 rebounds on Tuesday night.
“It was tough. You know, obviously, I had to do my best to get back,” Antetokounmpo said. “I had to do my best to get back. Listen to my medical staff. I did the right treatment. Took care of my body and supported my teammates, and now I’m back.”
Antetokounmpo is back, which is good, but Milwaukee is going to have to do a better job on their pick-and-roll defense in Game 2. As stated numerous times in the playoffs, it’s all about adjustments, and the Bucks will have to make adjustments in Game 2 on Thursday night in Phoenix.
-Khris Middleton scored a team-high 29 points tonight to go along with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Middleton shot 12-of-26 from the field and knocked down 5 of his 12 three-point attempts. His 26 field goal attempts tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the fourth-most field goal attempts by a Bucks player in an NBA Finals game in franchise history.
-Mikal Bridges added 14 points tonight, his 11th game of this postseason with 10-plus points and first since Game 3 against the Clippers on June 24. The Suns are 10-1 this postseason when Bridges scores in double figures.
-Cam Johnson and Cameron Payne both came off the bench tonight to each score 10 points in the win. Both knocked down 2 three-pointers, while Johnson added 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
-Phoenix took advantage of the free-throw line on Tuesday night. The Suns were 25/26(96.2%) from line. Booker led the way going 10/10.
Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul has made it to the NBA Finals! Paul scored 31 of his game-high 41 points in the second half, including 19 points in the fourth quarter, as the Suns defeated the Clippers 130-103 in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals at Staples Center on Wednesday night. With the win, Phoenix will make the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Paul’s 31 points in the second half is the most he’s scored in the second half in his career(regular season and playoffs).
In addition, the 36-year-old Paul, who scored 37 points in a series-clinching win against the Nuggets in the second round, became the oldest player in postseason history with 35 points in consecutive close-out games within a postseason, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
The 16-year veteran struggled with his shot in the team’s Game 5 loss against the Clippers, but Suns head coach Monty Williams knew that Paul could have a breakout performance in this series, and it came at the right time.
“I’ve told you guys from the jump I wanted to stay out of his way,” Williams said postgame. “There were questions about his production before tonight, and in my heart, I felt like it was a matter of time. I didn’t know it was going to be like that, but that’s who Chris(Paul) is. He was tired, and he was still making those kinds of plays — getting to the basket, the threes, orchestrating everything.”
Paul, who spent six seasons with the Clippers, broke Los Angeles with his performance in the second half, and the Suns knew that when Patrick Beverley shoved Paul in the back after a Clippers’ timeout in the fourth quarter. Beverley would get ejected, and Phoenix continued to pour it on.
“Over the years, people talk junk to me, and a lot of times I usually say something back, but I done changed a little,” Paul said. “A little. A little. And I just kept thinking, if we do what we’re supposed to do, I get the last laugh. So you stay the course long enough, you break ’em, and that’s what we did.”
Jae Crowder, who scored 19 points in Game 6, added on Beverley’s shove: “They broke. We know we broke them. There’s no better sign of defeat than knowing that moment, that moment where it’s like competition meets and we just — you can’t do anything else to help your team overcome that situation. He just broke. That’s what we were trying to reach.”
Paul, who was traded to the Suns by the Thunder last offseason, getting to this point was not easy. He’s suffered untimely injuries in past years during the playoffs and had untimely injuries this postseason(shoulder, COVID), but according to Paul, he knew his chance to make it to the Finals would come.
When asked if he ever thought this moment would not happen, Paul said the following:
“No. No. I ain’t built like that. It’s just get to work,” he said. “Get to work. What was it, Game 3, I find out I tore some ligaments in my hand. I said, oh, here we go. But you just — I got an unbelievable team around me.”
Not many people had the Suns in the NBA Finals, but guess what? They’re here, and with home-court advantage in the Finals, injury issues with both the Hawks and Bucks, and based on the way they’re playing, Phoenix has an excellent chance to win a championship.
Watch below as Paul talks making NBA Finals: