DimeMag

Chris Paul Led The Suns To A Game 4 Win And A Sweep Of The Nuggets

The Phoenix Suns entered Game 4 in Denver hoping to close things out on the road, and got off to a strong start in their quest to do so, taking a 20-10 lead at one point to put the Nuggets in an early hole.

As has been the case for a few years now, the Nuggets showed their resilience and made little runs throughout the first half to keep things close, but they could never fully reel in the Suns, who always seemed capable of coming up with a timely bucket or stop whenever Denver would pull within a score or two as Nikola Jokic and Devin Booker dueled early with the Suns up eight at the half.

The Nuggets making runs to no avail was was a theme throughout the game, as it was clear that Chris Paul and Devin Booker were looking at Game 4 as their opportunity to get this series over with and rest up before a showdown in the conference finals with either the Jazz or the Clippers. In the third quarter, Paul in particular was marvelous, running pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll to get to his spot on the right elbow where he was 6-for-6 from in the quarter, including hitting a fading midrange shot on four straight possessions at one point, literally toying with the Nuggets.

Then, things turned dramatically in the third when Nikola Jokic got ejected for a Flagrant 2 after winding up to foul Cam Payne out of frustration, hammering the Suns reserve guard in the face on his way down to the ball.

Denver fought admirably from that point on, but similarly to the first three quarters, every run they made to get within a possession earned a response from the Suns’ dynamic duo. Chris Paul put, effectively, the dagger in with a drive all the way to the rim as Denver finally stepped up to stop his pull-up jumper and Phoenix countered with an extra back screen to get Paul to the hoop instead.

Paul finished the game with a game-high 37 points, seven assists, three rebounds, and two steals, doing so on insane efficiency as he was 14-of-19 from the field, 9-of-9 from the free throw line, and had just two turnovers on the night in what became a 125-118 Suns win. Booker was terrific as well with 34 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, providing the first half lift before letting Paul take over in closing time. The Suns now head into the conference finals with immense confidence, as they simply dismantled a good Denver team that, while missing some backcourt depth, had just outplayed a great backcourt team in Portland. The Suns showed their tremendous balance in this series, with Chris Paul looking as good as ever, clearly feeling good after the shoulder issue in the Lakers series.

Denver now enters the offseason with a bit of a conundrum. They were without their second-best player in Jamal Murray and made it to the conference semis, and also were without some key perimeter depth as well. However, the same flaws that crept up against the Lakers were apparent against the Suns as they could not get a stop against great 1-on-1 and pick-and-roll players, which seemingly puts a ceiling on how good they can be, fully healthy or not. How they proceed will be interesting, with plenty of reason to believe they could run it back but on the flip side, plenty of reason to believe changes — and fairly significant ones — are needed.

×