Chris Paul clearly was not right. One of the greatest floor generals the game has ever seen, he was clearly bothered by the friendly-fire shoulder stinger he suffered in Game 1 of this first-round playoff series against the Lakers. Paul taped it up and tried to go, but he couldn’t handle the ball the same way with his right hand and just wasn’t moving well.
It bothered Suns coach Monty Williams so much he took CP3 out of the game 4:14 into the second half. Paul gutted out another 2:30 run in the fourth quarter, but Williams said after the game it was his call to sit Paul most of the second half. Here are the coach’s quotes, via ESPN.
“I took him out, that was all me,” Williams said. “Just looking at him holding his arm the way he was holding it, I just couldn’t watch him run like that, trying to make plays. He battled. He’s a warrior, we all know that. I just made a decision to take him out.”
“He’s not able to make the passes he wants. He was laboring tonight,” Williams said. “I don’t want to get into too many details until I talk to him about it, but you can see he wasn’t even running the way he ran and dribbled the ball this morning. We’re hopeful it’ll get better over the next 48 hours.”
Williams went with a heavy dose of Cameron Payne in Paul’s place, and Payne provided a spark, finishing with 19 points and seven assists. But he is no CP3.
The Suns missed Paul’s decision-making and playmaking skills down the stretch as the Lakers’ defense smothered the Suns late and got Los Angeles the win to even the series.
How healthy Chris Paul is for the coming games in Los Angeles and the rest of the way could decide the series.
Paul suffered the injury in the first half of Game 1. While he played much of the rest of Game 1, Paul could barely dribble the ball with his right hand at the time. While he looked a little better on Tuesday night, these kinds of injuries take time to recover from.
With Game 3 Thursday in Los Angeles, CP3 and the Suns don’t have a lot of time.