Chris Paul (CP3) drops 41 points in 130-103 win, as the Suns give the Los Angeles Clippers nightmares & end their championship dreams in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.
From the start, CP3 was locked in. Thirteen seconds into the contest, he throws up an alley oop dunk to Mikal Bridges. A precursor of what was to come. But this wouldn’t be the game CP3 had ungodly amount of assists. He had 8, which tied with the lead for the entire game on both squads. Still very great.
But this would be a scoring fiesta for CP3 in the second half.
The two teams kept it close in the first quarter, and the Suns started to pull away in the beginning of the second. Clippers go into halftime down 9. CP3 had only 10 points.
With 4:01 mintues left into the third quarter, a bad pass by Clippers forward Paul George leads to a Mikal Bridges two-point basket. Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue calls a full timeout. The Suns have ballooned the lead to 17, score 89-72.
But the Clippers never go down without a fight, going on a 10-0 run and forcing the Suns to take a full timeout with the score now 89-82. “You just always know, these close games are tough,” said CP3 during the postgame press conference. “I watch every game, every night and you just always see the Clippers make a run. Third quarter, fourth quarter, they just get it going. Seemed like that was happening.” CP3 reentered the game with 1:43 remaining in the third. Fifteen seconds later, CP3 was left alone and he confidently stepped into a three. Nothing but the bottom of the net. Biggest shot of his career.
He was built for those moments. He’s had a lot of experiences, a lot of ups and downs. Plenty of heartaches. He was prepared and apparently had a long memory. “I remember we were up 3-2, and I didn’t get to play those last two games in Houston,” said CP3. “Tone (the equipment manager in Houston) had a t-shirt and hat and I never got a chance to get it. I’ll never forget that. Never forget that.”
“Jay (equipment manager in Phoenix) texted me a couple days ago and said ‘See I got the t-shirt and the hat. All you gotta do is your part’,” said CP3. “So that’s the only thing I was thinking about is the process, just getting us one step closer to where we want to be.”
He closed out the quarter with 12 points. But he wasn’t done. CP3 put the game out of reach by racking up 19 points in the fourth quarter alone. Suns guard Devin Booker finished with a hurting nose (after taking a hit from Paul George) and 22 points. Forward Jae Crowder chipped in 19 points of his own. Ayton with 16 points and 17 rebounds. But the star of this Hollywood movie was Chris Paul. He finished the game with 41 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Best game of his career by far.
It wasn’t a easy road for the surging Suns though. “It’s been a lot, I’m telling you,” said CP3. “Told you I was getting a MRI yesterday on my wrist. Have had all these surgeries over the years. First series, got the nerve (injury). Win the second series. End up with COVID. It’s been a lot and I wanted it not just for myself but for everybody in that locker room.”
Suns are making their first Finals appearance since Charles Barkley’s Suns took on Michael Jordan’s Bulls. Chicago won that series 4-2. Now the Suns have to wait patiently for their next opponent to be revealed as their journey towards a championship continues.
Other CP3 quotables:
“Book plays with a edge, and I’m the same way. Over the years, people would talk junk to me and a lot of times I would say something back. But I have changed, a little.”
“I just kept thinking; if we do what we’re suppose to do, I’ll get the last laugh.”
“If you stay the course long enough, you break them. And that’s what we did.”
“I was just happy and proud of our team. Just a week ago, I was here at home (in LA with COVID-19), couldn’t be there with my teammates.”
“That’s what you call next man up. They won two games in this series without me.”
“It’s crazy because Jason Powell, the head trainer over there (with Clippers), is my family. We usually talk all the time, and we didn’t talk this whole series. Chauncey (Billups) is my family, like my brother. We didn’t talk this whole series. I’m so happy for him getting a head coaching job because we talked about it during quarantine. About what his next thing was going to be. When he said he was going to be a coach, I was like ‘you’re going to be the best coach there is.’ When we played together (with Clippers), we use to be in our locker, right next to each other drawing up plays. It’s been hard not to tell him ‘Congratulations’. It’s a lot of ties (to Clippers).”