Chris Paul takes over late, scores 19 in fourth, leads Suns to Game 3 win against Pelicans

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Through one-and-a-half games, Devin Booker had been the best player on the court in this 1 vs. 8 first-round playoff series. With him sidelined, where would the Suns turn in the clutch for buckets?

Chris Paul.

CP3 scored 19 fourth-quarter points and controlled the game late, leading the Suns to another clutch win, this time 114-111 over the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 3 of their series.

Phoenix now has a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 on Sunday in New Orleans.

It was a bounce-back game for the Suns, who played poorly in a Game 2 loss outside of Booker’s injury. Friday night their defense still struggled to get stops at points, although traps on Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum late did help the Suns get the win. Paul stepped up (28 points on the night) but Deandre Ayton carried a huge load scoring 28 points on 20 shots — he did it working with Paul on the pick-and-roll, but also on post-ups, from the midrange and he even drained a 3.

Ingram again had a big night with 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting, and McCollum added 30. Still, the Pelicans looked like a young team making too many little mistakes — like Jaxson Hayes getting ejected — while playing a veteran squad. The Pelicans were too slow to adjust the defense when Paul started going off, and it cost them.

Still there were impressive stretches for New Orleans — like when Jose Alvarado scored seven straight in the fourth quarter — and this is a Pelicans team that could win Game 4 at home Sunday and even the series. With Booker out, the Pelicans can hang with the Suns.

They just need to find a way to better contain Chris Paul.