May 20, 2022

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'He built for these moments' - Chris Paul took charge in the fourth quarter to lead the Phoenix Suns to a first-game win over the New Orleans Pelicans

‘He built for these moments’ – Chris Paul took charge in the fourth quarter to lead the Phoenix Suns to a first-game win over the New Orleans Pelicans

Phoenix – first Chris Paul He overheard former teammate and coach Willie Green directing his New Orleans Pelicans players to dare to shoot. Then, after Paul removed the strategy, he told his old friend about it.

Paul, who will turn 37 in three weeks, became the oldest player to score 30 points and 10 assists in a playoff as he put those exact numbers into leading the top-seeded Phoenix Suns to a 110-99 victory in their first game. Sunday’s first round series.

He passed Steve Nash, who did the same as a member of The Suns at age 36 in 2010. Paul is now one of only five players in history to have made 10 playoffs with 30 points and 10 assists. LeBron James He has the most of these matches with 22 matches, followed by Michael Jordan with 15 matches.

Plenty of it came in a furious rally in the final quarter as Paul scored 17 points in five minutes to crush the Pelicans’ return attempt. Green’s choice of having his defenders give Paul space by going into a pick-and-roll backfired when Paul made three consecutive three-pointers as he attacked a shifting defense that repeatedly left him facing the slowest Larry Nance Jr..

“This is like my calling [to] “I know Willie, this is my man,” said Paul, who looked at Greene several times after spraying the shots. “It’s all part of the game.”

Green, who was an assistant with the Suns last season and played for Paul at the Los Angeles Clippers and then the New Orleans Hornets, used a heavy bench lineup that reduced Phoenix’s 23-point lead to just six early in the fourth quarter. .

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But Paul broke the strategy as he repeatedly called for the middle Dender Eaton To set a screen and force Nance to switch. In the end, Green had to pull Nance, who had been very effective with Paul off the bench, from the match.

“We went under two screens and he just stood behind him and shot the three ball,” Green said. “The mistakes were on our part, on my part as a coach. I have to do better with this coverage. Chris, that’s exactly what he does.”

Paul O’Help scored 23 of 31 points in the fourth quarter. His 19 points in the frame was his second in the final quarter of his career.

“This guy is a real contender and a real winner,” said the Suns star. Devin BookerWho got 25 points. “When he wants it that bad, you can see it in his demeanor and see in his career, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone. He was built for these moments.”

The Suns held the Pelicans 22% in the first half as Michael Bridgeswho was named best defensive player of the year, stifled the pelican guard CJ McCollum. Pelicans fired 2 of the game’s 16 when Bridges was the primary defender, according to ESPN Stats & Information Tracking. McCollum finished with 25 points but missed 16 shots and was 0 to 9 with Bridges on it.

Paul also played an excellent defense, knocking out with three steals.

“It’s just his ability to understand that he needs to take charge of the game,” said Suns coach Monty Williams. “I don’t think I was around anyone like Chris with that innate feeling at the time.”

ESPN’s Andrew Lopez contributed to this report.