“It Was Made For These Moments”

Phoenix – first, Chris Paul He overheard former teammate and coach Willie Green directing the New Orleans Pelicans for a daring shootout. Then, after Paul removed the strategy, he told his old friend about it.

Paul, who will turn 37 in three weeks, became the oldest player to score 30 points and 10 assists in a playoff, putting those exact numbers to lead the top-seeded Phoenix Suns to a 110-99 victory in Game One. Sunday’s first round series.

he passed Steve Nashwho did the same as a member of the Suns team at the age of 36 in 2010. Paul is now one of only five players in history to have made 10 playoffs with 30 points and 10 assists. LeBron James She has more than 22 of these shows, followed by Michael Jordan with 15.

Much of it came in a furious rally in the final quarter, with Paul scoring 17 points in five consecutive minutes to crush the Pelicans’ return attempt. Green’s choice of having his defenders give Paul space by going into a pick-and-roll backfired when Paul made three consecutive three-pointers as he attacked a shifting defense that repeatedly left him facing the slowest Larry Nance Jr.

“This is like my calling [to] “I know Willie; that’s my man. It’s all part of the game,” said Paul, who looked at Green several times after spraying the shots.

Green, who was an assistant with the Suns last season and played for Paul at the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Hornets at the time, used a heavy bench lineup that reduced Phoenix’s 23-point lead to just six at the start of the fourth inning. a fourth.

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But Paul broke the strategy as he repeatedly called for the middle Dender Eaton To adjust the screen and force Nance to switch. In the end, Green had to pull Nance, who had been very effective with Paul off the bench, from the match.

“We went under two screens, and he just stood behind him and hit the three ball,” Green said of Paul. “The mistakes were on our part, on my part as a coach. I should do better with that coverage. Chris, that’s exactly what he does.”

Paul O’Help scored 23 of 31 points in the fourth quarter. His 19 points in the frame was the second in the final quarter of his career.

“This guy is a real competitor and a real winner,” said the Suns star Devin Bookerwho scored 25 points. “When he wants it that bad, you can see it in his demeanor and see in his career, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone. He was built for these moments.”

The Suns held the Pelicans 22% in the first half as Michael Bridgeswho was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, stifled the pelican guard CJ McCollum. Pelicans fired 2 of the game’s 16 when Bridges was the primary defender, according to ESPN Stats & Information Tracking. McCollum finished with 25 points but missed 16 shots and was 0 to 9 with Bridges on it.

Paul also played an excellent defense, knocking out with three steals.

“It’s just his ability to understand that he needs to take over the game,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “I don’t think I was around anyone like Chris with that innate feeling at the time.”

ESPN’s Andrew Lopez contributed to this report.

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