This one could be the straw that broke the camel’s back when we look back at the potential downfall of the Phoenix Suns. They really needed this one.
There are only so many moral victories you can get before you truly need to stop the bleeding. Right now, the Suns need a win in the worst way.
Chris Paul wanted this one desperately as well. The veteran point guard had one of his best games of the season and played 40 minutes trying to will this team to victory, but came up just short.
Suns lose, 90-88.
Deandre Ayton — 15 points, 18 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist, 7/12 FG
Chris Paul — 25 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 9/17 FG
Donovan Mitchell — 20 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 6/20 FG
Caris LeVert — 21 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 7/11 FG
The first quarter was a snoozefest offensively for both teams. After 12 minutes of action, the score was 15-14 with Cleveland leading. What year is it again?
There really wasn’t much to talk about in that quarter other than each team looked completely out of sync offensively. If you want, you can give credit to each team for playing hard defensively, but it was mostly poor shooting and execution.
Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 4 points and Mitchell led the Cavs with 6.
CP3 ➡️ DA for the slam.— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 5, 2023
All-Star vote: https://t.co/RrQOCwhmV0 pic.twitter.com/T06ROglA7j
Phoenix looked a lot more in rhythm in the second quarter, sharing the ball and knocking down shots.
The patented Chris Paul rip-through with 3:21 in the period put the Suns in the bonus as they led 36-28.
The defensive effort continued from the Suns, playing team defense, making the right rotations, and forcing tough shots for the Cavs.
CP3 with the vision to find Landry. pic.twitter.com/gKn1VrPf1G— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 5, 2023
Heading into the half, Phoenix took a 43-33 lead led by Chris Paul’s 14 points and 3 assists. Ayton chipped in with 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 steal. Mitchell led the Cavs with 11 points in the first half.
Dario Saric provided the Suns with some quality minutes in the third quarter, stringing together a few sequences that helped elevate the offense serving as that “connector”.
The team announced after the half that guard Cam Payne would not return due to right foot discomfort.
INJURY UPDATE: Cameron Payne (right foot discomfort) will not return tonight.— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 5, 2023
Duane Washington Jr. checked in the game for the first time with 2:03 in the 3rd quarter due to the Payne news.
Phoenix’s defense started to give finally as the Cavs strung together some offense to chip away at the Suns’ lead.
Chris Paul hit a tough one-legged runner from deep at the buzzer of the third quarter to extend the Suns' lead to 5 after the Cavs cut it down to just 2.
CP3, ARE YOU SERIOUS!? pic.twitter.com/qQQ9ncTnz6— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) January 5, 2023
The Cavs' offense got off to a hot start to open the 4th, picking that momentum up from the final moments in the 3rd quarter.
Caris LeVert led the offensive surge for the Cavs to tie the game up a 70 with 9:30 remaining in the contest.
Chris Paul was playing like the “Point God” tonight, and truly kept the offense alive when they needed him most.
Paul applying pressure. pic.twitter.com/gOjqKnXQkB— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 5, 2023
The Suns' defense broke down on back-to-back possessions leading to Donovan Mitchell and Cedi Osman hitting consecutive threes to cut the lead down to 1.
Mitchell hit a tough step-back three with the game tied at 85 to give Cleveland a three-point edge, leading to a Phoenix timeout with 40 seconds left.
Landry Shamet answered with a clutch triple of his own to tie things up.
Mobley drops in a shot off a Mitchell feed to put the Cavs up two. Timeout Suns.
Bridges had a chance to tie the game and misfired. Ballgame.
Star of the Game
Chris Paul — 25 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 9/17 FG
Suns vs. Heat (Friday at 8 pm) on ESPN