Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The New Orleans Pelicans figure to be merely a speed bump for the Phoenix Suns, who will be graded on a championship-or-bust curve throughout the playoffs after falling just short in the NBA Finals last season.
They’ll be lifting up the Larry O’Brien Trophy in no time if Chris Paul keeps playing like he did when their 110-99 Game 1 victory was hanging in the balance Sunday.
New Orleans came storming back to cut the lead to single digits with an 18-5 run in the third quarter just for Point God to put on an absolute clinic of basketball brilliance. He danced through defenders, drilled three triples and put Larry Nance Jr. in a blender while blowing by him for a layup as he scored 17 of his team’s 19 points during a blistering stretch to put the game away.
CP3 is TAKING OVER IN Q4 🔥
He has 15 of the @Suns 18 points in the fourth.#NBAPlayoffs presented by Google Pixel on TNT pic.twitter.com/egHQUZ5oyi
CP3’s handle work off the PnR is amazing ✨#NBAPlayoffs presented by Google Pixel on TNT pic.twitter.com/cprPR1wbgJ
Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie
Lmao 15 points on six possessions for CP3 with 3 3s, 2 FTs, a driving layup past Nance, and a killer assist to JaVale.
Chris Paul still being this good at this age is unfathomable to me. He is incredible. https://t.co/vkO6ICsWet
It was basketball poetry by the leader of the league’s best team on his way to 30 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, three steals and something of a statement to the Pelicans that he can take over at a moment’s notice whenever needed.
Throw in Devin Booker drilling shots from downtown and facilitating, Deandre Ayton showing off his versatility with jumpers and touch around the rim, Mikal Bridges playing like a Defensive Player of the Year, and Cameron Johnson providing a spark off the bench, and the Suns looked every bit the part of a championship team.
Phoenix Suns @Suns
The art of alley-oop. pic.twitter.com/UlypXdQgUJ
Phoenix Suns @Suns
We like to get up. 🙂 pic.twitter.com/tj3AcajmsE
Dan Favale @danfavale
Book ↗ JaVale #PhantomCam
25 PTS, 6 AST for Booker#NBAPlayoffs presented by Google Pixel on TNT pic.twitter.com/DZFKoW71RJ
The Pelicans received solid games from CJ McCollum (25 points, eight boards and six assists) and Jonas Valanciunas (18 points and 25 rebounds), but they are clearly facing a different level of competition than the play-in tournament and may struggle to bounce back in Tuesday’s Game 2.
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