Perfect Chris Paul, top-seeded Suns finish Pelicans in Game 6

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Chris Paul has accomplished so many things in his 17 NBA seasons that it’s almost impossible to rank his Mount Rushmore moments.

In the absence of a title, however, perfection can be hard to beat.

Paul was 14 for 14 – most field goals without a miss in an NBA playoff game – in the Phoenix Suns’ 115-109, series-ending victory over the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday night.

“I had no idea,” said Paul, the former Pelican, who finished with 33 points and eight assists. “I think maybe during the break I said I might need to shoot a little more. But throughout the match, I literally controlled the game. I did not take heatchecks. I do not shoot enough to have heatchecks.”

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Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans striker Brandon Ingram in the second half of Game 6 of an NBA basketball playoff series in the first round, Thursday, April 28, 2022 in New Orleans.  The Suns won 115-109, to win the series 4-2 and advance to the second round.

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans striker Brandon Ingram in the second half of Game 6 of an NBA basketball playoff series in the first round, Thursday, April 28, 2022 in New Orleans. The Suns won 115-109, to win the series 4-2 and advance to the second round.
(AP Photo / Gerald Herbert)

The top-seeded Suns overcame a 10-point deficit at the break to finish the Pelicans in six games. Phoenix established a second-round series with Dallas, a 98-96 winner in Utah in another game 6 later Thursday.

Paul led Phoenix to wins by scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter of games 1 and 3 after trying to distribute the ball to teammates in the first three quarters. Suns coach Monty Williams said it was difficult to rank Paul’s performance as a goal scorer, manager and game manager.

“I can not even say because he has done it so many times,” Williams said. “This is probably No. 1 because it just happened, and I knew how special New Orleans is to him. He cares deeply about the city and the fans and the kids. It’s probably No. 1 because it just happened. “

Booker had no trouble hitting Paul’s performance.

“No one has seen this – 14 for 14,” Booker said. “It’s the first time for all of us.”

Booker returned from a hamstring injury to hit a late 3-pointer that gave the Suns the lead forever – fittingly enough with an assist from Paul.

After Brandon Ingram gave New Orleans his last lead, 104-103, on a reverse baseline layup with 2:00 left, Paul Booker found unguarded on the left wing and he made the 3-pointer to put Phoenix ahead 106-104 with 1 : 42 left.

Booker played for the first time in nine days since straining his right hind thigh after scoring 31 points in the first half of Game 2. He scored 13 points on 5-of-12 shots and had five rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes.

“It was really nice to have him back,” Paul said. “All the pressure they’ve put on us the whole series, especially the last three games, was tough. (Booker) was on the left wing and I do not know if they forgot or did not realize who he was, but I saw how they were moved. “

“It surprised me, too,” Booker said. “That’s not how you usually get clean.”

Deandre Ayton had 22 points for Phoenix on 10-of-12 shooting.

The Suns erased a 10-point break by making 13 of their first 14 shots in the third quarter to take a 77-74 lead. At the time, Paul was 10 of 10 from the field and Ayton was 6 of 6. Paul had 13 points in the quarter, but New Orleans used an 11-5 run to take an 85-82 lead into the final period.

Ingram led the Pelicans with 21 points and 11 assists.

New Orleans coach Willie Green, one of Paul’s closest friends, said he did not need to be told how special Paul’s 14-of-14 night was.

“Do not remind me of that right now,” he said, smiling. “I’m proud we passed the test. I could not have asked for a better effort.”

TIP INS

Suns: Williams said Booker increased his conditioning while treating a hamstring injury by playing one-on-one with assistant coach Jarrett Jack for the past few days. “He’s been on the floor with Jack a few times and he’s done the best he can to get to that point,” Williams said.

Pelicans: The Pelicans surpassed the Suns 279-215 in the series.

NEXT

The Suns and Mavericks open the second round Monday night in Phoenix.

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