Two weeks from blowing out his 37 candles, Chris Paul is attacking the NBA play-offs with Phoenix as one of the big favorites for the title, which has eluded him since the start of his career. The Arizona players enforced their status Sunday night with a win over New Orleans (110-99) for Game 1 of their first-round series. “CP3” became the oldest player to register 30 points and give 10 assists in a finals game.
Well supported by Devin Booker (25 points, 8 assists) and DeAndre Ayton (21 points, 9 rebounds), Paul gave the Suns a nice lead at the end of the second quarter (53-34, 24th). But on the heels of its two play-in victories, New Orleans revolted after the break.
CJ McCollum (25 points) and Brandon Ingram (18) found the address while Jonas Valanciunas (18 points, 25 rebounds) reigned under the circle. And a few seconds from the buzzer in the third quarter, Larry Nance Jr stole a ball from the hands of Torrey Craig to reduce the gap a little more (79-71, 36th). But “CP3” put an end to the hopes of the Pelicans.
19 points for Paul in the last quarter
The former Clippers point guard found himself three times against Nance Jr, in one against one, for as many successful shots under the nose of the interior of New Orleans. On the way to a last quarter with 19 points scored, Chris Paul widened the gap on his favorite shot, halfway out of dribbling (97-83, 40th).
A final basket from “CP3” closed the scoring and gave Phoenix Game 1 of this first-round series. Unhappy finalists against Milwaukee last July, the Suns will meet New Orleans on Tuesday night for Game 2 at home.