There’s a reason Chris Paul is known as “The Point God”.
In the Suns’ 123-98 win over the Nuggets on Wednesday night, Paul put in a performance that most NBA pointers can only dream of. He totaled 17 points, 15 assists and five rebounds in 31 minutes. Making his performance even more impressive, the 11-time All-Star did not commit a single turnover.
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“I’m just reading the game, man, I just find open guys, pick my spots,” Paul told TNT’s Chris Haynes after Phoenix won in Game 2, which gave the Suns a 2-point lead. -0 in the series. “We have an amazing team.”
The Suns had six double-digit players and 12 players scored at least two points. Phoenix also stifled Denver’s offensive offense, limiting the Nuggets to 40 percent on shots from the field.
While it certainly was a group effort, Paul’s stat line stood out not only in that single-framed score, but also in the larger table in playoff history.
15 and 0
Paul recorded his third career playoff game with 15 or more assists and zero turnovers, the most of those games in the 16-team era, by Stathead.
He’s also the first player with 15 points, 15 assists and zero turnovers in a playoff game since, of course Chris Paul. He has now hit those numbers with three different teams (Hornets in 2008, Clippers in 2014, Suns in 2021).
.@NBA playoff games with more than 15 points, 15+ assists and 0 turnovers since 1984:
Chris Paul, 3 years old
Magic Johnson, 1
Jason Kidd, 1
All other handsets, 0
(H / t Stathead) https://t.co/f8nj5JEGNw
– Phoenix Suns (@Suns) June 10, 2021
15, 15 and 5
With CP3 still playing at an elite level, it’s easy to forget the guy turned 36 last month.
Only three players 35 or older registered at least 15 points, 15 assists and five rebounds in a postseason game, by the Elias Sports Office: Paul, LeBron James and John Stockton. Pretty good company.
|May 5, 2000||Stockton||17||15||7|
|Aug 18, 2020||James||23||16||17|
|June 9, 2021||Paul||17||15||5|
Handing out 15 assists on Wednesday, Paul pushed his playoff total to 974. That propelled him past Lakers legend Jerry West for 14th place on the all-time playoff assists list.
Paul could overtake Isiah Thomas (987) in Game 3, and if the Suns do a deep run, he could end up in the top 10 by the end of the playoffs.
In Phoenix’s first-round series against Los Angeles, Paul shot unusually weakly, in large part because he suffered from a shoulder injury he sustained in the Suns’ first playoff game. His field goal percentage has fallen below 40 percent, and he’s only drained two of his 10 3-point attempts in six games.
Now with that shoulder at around 90%, according to Haynes, Paul looks a lot more like himself. After scoring 6 of 10 in Game 2, Paul shoots 58.3% of the field in the Western Conference semifinals, including 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.
It’s a promising sign for a Phoenix team reaching their peak at the perfect time.