Chris Paul had hit what seemed to be the shot to clinch Game 4 for the Phoenix Suns. But he had one more in him.
With just over three minutes left, Paul grabbed an offensive rebound, dribbled to the corner and threw up a one-handed shot he thought was going to beat the shot clock (it actually reset after starting forward Torrey Craig hit the rim on a 3-point attempt).
Paul’s shot went in and gave the Suns a 109-96 lead with 2:59 left. It was two of his 12 fourth-quarter points that gave the Suns what they needed to close a 112-100 win in Game 4 of their first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles Saturday afternoon.
Paul made 5-of-9 shots in the fourth quarter and finished with 19 points, nine assists and zero turnovers. He also had four rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
The Suns took a 3-1 series lead with their win and have a chance to close out the Clippers in Game 5 at home Tuesday.
Paul may not be the player he used to be in his career, but the 37-year-old showed he is still capable of closing big games.
Phoenix was in a tight battle with Los Angeles in Game 4, leading by just five points after the third quarter. The Suns had momentum after they closed the period with a 23-14 stretch but had yet to put away the Clippers, who were competitive for the second straight game without Kawhi Leonard due to a right knee sprain.
Paul had not taken over at that point. He had just seven points on 3-of-8 shooting but was a team-best plus-15.
Paul started the fourth quarter on a rough note with a contested 3-pointer that was blocked by Los Angeles center Mason Plumlee. The play resulted in a shot clock violation, but it was the last time Paul was stopped.
After a shot from Clipper forward Terrence Mann that cut the Suns’ lead to 83-81 with 10:34 left, Paul immediately responded with a pull-up shot over Clipper wing Robert Covington to regive them a two-possession advantage.
Paul then hit a fadeaway shot with seven seconds left on the shot clock to give the Suns a 93-89 lead with 7:35 to go. He followed it with an assist to starting forward Torrey Craig for a layup to put them ahead 95-91 with 6:58 left.
Paul’s first of three dagger shots came with 6:17 left, a 3-pointer that gave the Suns a 98-91 advantage and put them ahead by at least three possessions for the remainder of the game.
Chris Paul. Seven points in the fourth. pic.twitter.com/eURer7eIvI— Trevor Booth (@TrevorMBooth) April 22, 2023
After two baskets from Craig and center Deandre Ayton, Paul hit a second and what was already a game-sealing 3-pointer that gave the Suns their first double-digit lead, 107-96, with 3:39 left.
Then, Paul hit a shot that would have won a game of ‘Horse’ against most opponents, nearly falling out-of-bounds while attempting a one-handed shot just inside the 3-point line. He smiled as he ran to half court while Suns guard Devin Booker and forward Kevin Durant threw their arms in the air, stunned by the shot but then pleased with the result.
Book and KD’s reaction to Chris Paul’s shot pic.twitter.com/hQCbyAZooK— andrew leezus (@AndrewLeezus) April 22, 2023
Paul also had a highlight play in the first half, a crossover against Clippers guard Eric Gordon that put him on the ground while he dished the ball to Booker for a 3-pointer.
Chris Paul puts Eric Gordon on the ground with a crossover, leads to a Devin Booker triple— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) April 22, 2023
My word pic.twitter.com/3zUvBWQJ27
Paul’s shots were huge in the moment but also timely for the Suns. Los Angeles has made comeback efforts in each of Phoenix’s wins but the Suns have not let them back in it.
In their three wins this series, the Suns have been plus-12 over the Clippers in the fourth quarter.
Saturday, Paul may have hit the buckets that put away the Clippers for good in this series.
Paul also finished with nine assists and is still No. 4 among all players this postseason in assists per game (8.5).
The job is not finished for Paul and the Suns in this series. They still have to close Los Angeles out, which will be a difficult challenge since the Clippers are well-coached by their leader, Ty Lue, and have a deep bench that has given Phoenix fits.
Expect Tuesday’s Game 5 to be a battle. But if it comes down to the wire, the Suns might be able to count on Paul once again in the clutch.
The Suns play the Clippers at 7 p.m. MT Tuesday at Footprint Center.
For more coverage, stay tuned at BrightSideOftheSun.com.