Chris Paul gave another master class on how to play basketball on the fourth quarter of the 10th straight Phoenix Suns win. The Suns entered the fourth down 91-79 and the San Antonio Spurs had been killing Biyombo and McGee’s drop defense - Lonnie Walker had 22 off the bench mostly on mid-ranges - but Monty went small with Ish Wainright and Chris Paul just took over. The Suns began the fourth quarter with a 17-2 run to take the lead 96-93 and they stayed small the rest of the quarter.
Paul had 6 points and 8 assists in the fourth alone to cap off a 20 points, 8 rebounds and a season high 19 assists.
This time, however, it almost wasn’t enough as McDermott kept hitting buckets to keep the Spurs in it. He finished the game with 24 points and was 6-9 from three point range.
It took two big Devin Booker three pointers in the final two minutes for the Suns to finally open up a lead and secure the win.
It was closer than most of us believed it would be, but it was a win nonetheless as the Suns keep building on a terrific season, getting their 40th win before their 10th loss and securing a spot for their coaching staff in the Cleveland All-Star game.
Booker finished with 28 (12-24 FG, 4-9 3Pt) and Bridges added 26 of his own (11-16 FG).
JaVale McGee was confirmed to be available right before the game, but Biyombo got the start anyway. He starts with the first basket of the game off his own offensive rebound. Booker starts the cold going 2-7 from the floor and San Antonio is able to open up a quick 6 point lead and Chris Paul commits a live ball turnover on a sloppy pass leading to a fast break lay-up, Monty calls the first time out down 18-13 with 5:28 to go on the first.
The Suns come back with two straight buckets, but the refs ignore a clear foul on Booker and the Spurs respond, building the lead back up to 7. After Ish Wainwright hits a corner three bringing and the Booker gets a steal and foul, its time for Popovich to call his first time out with 2:41 to go. McGee comes into the game with Shamet and is fouled inside, making both free throws. However, with Landale and Lonnie Walker getting blocks and Walker and Primo scoring freely inside, the Spurs close the quarter up 31-23.
Chris Paul opens up the 2nd quarter with his own 6-0 run in less than two minutes forcing another Spurs time out. They come out with a zone defense that throws the Suns off their rhythm, building their lead back to 6. Booker comes back around the 6 minute mark and ignites the Suns offense, closing the gap to a one point game but the refs miss another obvious call on him and the Spurs are able to stay in front for a little while longer.
Booker, then, gets mad and hits three of his first four shots in the quarter and, after a steal by Shamet, Bridges leaks away and gets the easy dunk for the Suns lead 44-42, forcing a San Antonio time out with 3:28 to go in the half. The Suns and Spurs trade baskets until the Suns again go cold from deep, missing three straight open long shots, one for each of Booker, Chris and Shamet, and San Antonio is able to build back a seven point lead with a 9-2 to close the quarter 55-50. Booker finished the half with 15 points (7-16 FG), CP3 had 10 points and 9 assists. For the Spurs, Tre Jones led the team with 13 points and 4 assists, while McDermott added 12 on 5-8 from the field.
Every time the Suns try to put together a little run, San Antonio comes right back and through a few defensive lapses from Phoenix, build their lead back up. After a wide open Jock Landale three, Monty finally calls a time out down 81-72 with 3:11 to go. It doesn’t do much, as the Suns keep missing wide open corner threes and the Spurs keep exploiting McGee’s drop defense for mid ranges. The quarter ends on another sloppy inbounds pass that turns into an easy basket for the Spurs, who build a 91-79 lead going into the fourth.
The Suns open up with Ish at the five and get two straight threes, one from Ish and the other from Shamet, followed by a block and an easy lay-up by Ish, all baskets assisted by Chris Paul. Popovich calls a time-out to try to stop the Suns 8-2 run, but CP3 comes out of the time out with a rebound and three of his own . Next time down, he forces the Spurs turnover and gets Bridges wide open for a lay-up. He then grabs another rebound and gets Cam Johnson set up for a three. Except Cam rejects the three and gets a classic JAM to get back the lead and all of the momentum for the Suns. Time out Spurs. Phoenix up 94-93 with 8:48 to go.
Another Cam Johnson lay-up fed by Chris Paul builds the lead to three, but McDermott stops the bleeding and ties the game back up. CP3 gets a mid range over him and Ish draws a charge down the lane to get back possession. Shamet leaves the floor shaken up but it’s unclear what happened to him. Keldon Johnson gets an and-1 to regain the lead, but Cam Johnson responds again, this time fed by Booker. However, McDermott hits another three and Monty calls a time-out down 102-100 with 5:20 to go.
The Suns stay with a small ball line-up and Ish gets another easy lay-up, this time from Johnson and sets a new career high with 10, but the rookie Josh Primo hits a three to put the Spurs back up one as Monty calls another time-out with 3:37 to go. The Spurs refuse to go away, as Lonnie Walker keeps hitting mid range shots, as the Suns call another time-out after a near turnover by Booker, down two with 2:01 to go.
Booker responds with a big three to go back up one and the Suns force the steal and Booker hits another big three. Mikal gets a big block on Tre Jones, but Wainright misses a shot inside and Mikal hits a dagger with a beautiful reverse lay-up to go up six with 15.2 to go. Lonnie Walker gets a bucket, but CP3 goes to the free throw line, hitting one and sealing the 115-110 win and the coaching seat for Monty Williams and Staff for the All-Star game.