Chris Paul began the game by going just two of eight from the field in the first three quarters of Game 1, but when the fourth quarter rolled around, Paul was lights out. CP3 converted all six of his shots from the field during the final frame. Paul delivered when it mattered most and his late-game heroics allowed the Phoenix Suns to defeat the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals by a score of 122-105. Paul finished with a stat line of 21 points, 11 assists and six rebounds. Teammate Deandre Ayton commended this performance. “It’s in his hands, man,” Ayton said. “He’s made us comfortable… just knowing that he’s got it.”

Paul’s performance is even more impressive considering his injury struggles. Just two weeks ago in Game 1 versus the Los Angeles Lakers, Paul sustained a shoulder injury. Discussing the injury, Paul explained that as the game goes on, the shoulder improves and loosens up. Paul is also in the later stage of his career and this performance made Paul the oldest player in NBA history with 20 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds in a playoff game (36 years old). Only four other players have ever done that after the age of 35 years old.

Nuggets’ Aaron Gordon praised Paul. “Man, it’s a different game for him these days from when I was watching him play,” Gordon said. “He was a lot more explosive back in the day, getting to the cup. He’s always been really smart, and he just keeps getting smarter. He’s a maestro out there orchestrating them. He really has uplifted that whole Phoenix team. Just how he talks, how he communicates with them out on the floor; you can tell that he just gives the entire team confidence.”

Although Paul was instrumental in the win, the rest of the Suns’ squad displayed impressive depth and balance. Each of their five starters scored at least 14 points and the team had four players with at least 20 points. “That’s what I’ve said all season long: We have a team. If you try to take one of us out or whatnot, we make the right play. Who you gonna leave open? Mikal Bridges is cash. Jae Crowder is cash. Cam Johnson. I could keep going on and on, and that’s the benefits of having a team,” said Paul.

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