Phoenix Suns starting point guard Chris Paul “seems to be OK” after re-aggravating his right shoulder contusion in the third quarter of his team’s 115-85 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of its first-round series of the Western Conference playoffs on Tuesday night at Phoenix Suns Arena, Suns coach Monty Williams said.
Paul, who initially injured his shoulder in Game 1 on May 23 and appeared to be in much better health during Game 4 on Sunday, collided with Lakers’ shooting guard Wesley Matthews while fighting for a defensive rebound, causing him to grab his shoulder and fall to the ground.
Paul appeared to get upset with Matthews after the play before walking over to the Suns’ sideline and going to the floor again while being examined by the team’s medical staff. He returned to make two free throws, giving Phoenix an 80-45 lead with 6:47 left in the third quarter, before being evaluated in the Suns’ locker room. He did not return to play in the game.
Paul came back to Phoenix’s bench before the fourth quarter, shaking hands with Matthews and wearing a large shoulder brace for much of the period. Asked about his shoulder after the game, Paul said he will “be alright,” something he also iterated to Suns coach Monty Williams.
“We want to wait until tomorrow after he wakes up and then our medical team can make an assessment, but he told me that he felt like he had his strength and that’s a good thing,” Williams said.
Paul finished with nine points, a team-high six assists and four rebounds on 3-of-9 shooting in Game 5. His plus-34 mark was the best of any player in the game.
Paul and the Suns will look to close their first-round series against the Lakers in Game 6 on Thursday. The contest will tip off at 7:30 p.m. MT at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Here’s what Paul had to say about his shoulder and his team’s blowout win on Tuesday.
On how his shoulder is feeling after Game 5:
“It’s a little banged up, but I’ll be alright.”
On what impressed him most about how his team played:
“I think we just stayed the course. We came out, made a couple shots early and just played our style. We kept the pace going, shared the ball. We just played the way that we play.”
If the re-aggravation of his shoulder felt is serious as it did when he initially suffered the injury in Game 1:
“Yeah, it scared me. I’ve been talking to (Toronto Raptors point guard) Kyle Lowry a lot, he had a similar injury last year, a few other guys. I don’t know, it’s just a very uncomfortable feeling. Kind of helpless. When it happened, I didn’t know, I was just looking up and it sort of happened. I didn’t know what happened with Wes but after I seen it, I came back out on the court and I told Wes, ‘That was a clean play.’ And it was just unfortunate that my neck and arm snapped again like it did.”
On the Suns’ transition offense in the first half:
“Man, it was so good. So good. Our defense has been our energy all season, and you’ll see a flurry of threes or buckets from us, but it’s because of our defense. I think we’re one of the toughest teams to defend in transition, because we share the ball, we push it and there’s not a guy that you can leave open. So our defense was great tonight, and we’re going to need that again going to [Los Angeles] for Game 6.”
On what has impressed him about Suns starting shooting guard Devin Booker in this series and how important it is for Phoenix to close the series on Thursday in Los Angeles:
“I mean, it was just exciting for us to see Book be Book. Tonight is what we’ve seen from him all season long and he was taking the shots that he want him to shoot. Even in the previous four games, I’d be on him, ‘Shoot more.’ There’s really not a bad shot that he can take. And he just made the right plays. He shot it, when he got doubled, he got off of it or whatnot. And that’s why he is who he is.”
On what he will be sharing with his teammates about attempting to close out a playoff series:
“I’m just telling them, ‘This is the hardest one.’ Especially going on the road, but we just got to keep the same mindset, play our game and keep having fun.”
If his shoulder injury is something he will have to play and work through until it’s gone entirely:
“Yeah, I think so, I hope so. I’ve been doing treatment all day every day, just trying to do whatever I can to get out there and help us. But the biggest thing right now is Game 6. If we can get Game 6, that’d be huge.”