All Paul: Suns Ride CP3 to Game 2 Win

(AP Photo/Matt York)

Chris Paul still has “it.” 

Plenty of “it.”

The veteran point guard spear-headed a furious fourth quarter run as the Phoenix Suns dispatched the pesky Dallas Mavericks 129-109 to take a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinals.

Devin Booker scored a team-high 30 points. Jae Crowder had 15 and a team-high seven rebounds. Mikal Bridges added 11 and six assists.

Mavs’ star Luka Doncic led all scores with 35 points on 13-22 shooting.

Paul almost single-handedly broke open a tight game in the fourth as Phoenix outscored the Mavs 40-26.

“I just read the game and figure it out after that,” Paul said of his fourth quarter offensive explosion. “It’s fun. I love it…the end of games is exciting for fans, and the players.”

CP3 finished with 28 points on 11-16 shooting, eight assists, and six rebounds as Phoenix sizzled from the field connecting on 49-76 shots (64.5%) – most through Paul.

“When he comes back to start the fourth [quarter], for whatever reason, he’s fresh,” Phoenix head coach Monty Williams said after the win. “You can kind of see it. When he starts going, everybody else just follows suit. He’s just a fantastic basketball player.”

Things started well for Phoenix who jumped out to a 9-0 lead before Dallas got settled, mainly Doncic, who seemingly single-handedly kept the Mavs afloat, scoring 14 points and dishing out four assists in the first quarter.

Phoenix led 32-28 heading into the second quarter.

With Doncic resting to start the second, the Mavs went on a run, erasing the four-point deficit, and led 43-38 midway through the quarter. Spencer Dinwiddie provided instant offense off the bench, while the Suns struggled to find their offensive groove.

The game also slowed to a crawl due to frequent whistles from the officiating crew. A total of 30 fouls were called in the first 24 minutes of game action (17 on Dallas, 13 on Phoenix), including six offensive fouls in the second quarter alone.

The pace picked up in the final minutes and Dallas went to intermission with a 60-58 advantage behind another superhero performance from Doncic who poured in 24 points (9-14 shooting), to go along with six assists and four rebounds.

Crowder was the only first half Sun in double figures (15 points). Booker and Deandre Ayton scored nine each.

The Mavs’ bench outscored the Phoenix reserves 25-10 through the first two quarters.

Phoenix again found their offensive footing to start the third as Booker scored eight points in the opening two minutes and the Suns regained a slim margin. The teams would swap leads. The would hold a 89-83 edge heading to the fourth.

The first four minutes of the final quarter would belong to Paul who carved up the Mavs’ defense with a myriad of offensive moves. The Phoenix lead would balloon to 110-93 as the capacity crowd of 17,071 at Footprint Center roared their approval.  

Another Booker three pushed the margin to 116-95 as Dallas head coach Jason Kidd called timeout to stop the bleeding.

“We just picked up the defensive intensity,” Booker said. “We made it tough on them.”

Game 3 is Friday at 6:30 in Dallas.