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Severity of Chris Paul’s stinger injury can vary, says ESPN’s Bell

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of Game One of the Western Conference first-round playoff series at Phoenix Suns Arena on May 23, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul isn’t listed on the injury report for Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers, and that in itself is a good sign for his team.

ESPN injury expert Stephania Bell believes the absence is reflective “that he’s had a very swift recovery” from an injury reported as a stinger, but without knowing the full extent of what ailed Paul ahead of the rematch Tuesday, there were still questions to be answered heading into Game 2.

Paul’s six points and five assists with three turnovers in just 23 minutes answered those. The point guard still wasn’t right during a 109-102 loss in Game 2 on Tuesday.

Paul suffered the injury during Phoenix’s Game 1 victory and returned with clear limitations. Passes were weak, and the point guard fumbled the ball a handful of times when using his right arm, a sign of pain or a lack of feeling.

“It certainly looked like a stinger when it happened, to be honest with you. I think the description what we got first, initially, was a shoulder contusion,” Bell told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday before Game 2.

“I don’t even think (teammate Cam Johnson) hit his shoulder … his head got snapped to one side and he immediately grabbed for the top of his shoulder.”

That would indicate a nerve issue, which can cause a great deal of pain, Bell said. She added that the severity of such injuries can vary from symptoms going away within hours to lingering for weeks.

On Sunday, Paul played 20 second-half minutes between locker room trips. While he struggled to shoot or play-make, he wasn’t a liability.

Curiously, the Lakers didn’t prod him by sending more screens his way to test his ability to defend through contact. They also didn’t lay off of him as a shooter on the other end.

“He was able to gut it out,” Bell said. “… He’s not even on the injury report tonight, so I think that’s reflective of the fact that he’s had a very swift recovery. Even though I’m sure it’s very painful when it happened, probably relatively minor as far as overall severity.”

The NBA does not have strict requirements regarding how teams fill out injury reports compared to, say, the NFL.

But Paul not appearing on the injury report — only Suns forward Abdel Nader is listed as out — also isn’t surprising considering the point guard said postgame Sunday that he would “absolutely” be ready to play in Game 2. He stole 23 minutes and finished only with a -2 plus-minus rating, but backup Cam Payne spelled him with 19 points and seven assists, playing down the stretch.

Playing through a stinger despite dealing with lingering symptoms has been done before.

In the 2003 playoffs, Suns point guard Stephon Marbury reaggravated a stinger injury from earlier in the year and admitted he lost feeling in his fingertips, which impacted his shot. The injury, which happened in Game 4 of a 2-2 series with the San Antonio Spurs, led to Marbury’s poor shooting nights thereafter.

Marbury went 5-of-18 and then 5-of-19 in the next two games, both losses to the No. 1-seeded Spurs.

The Suns hope history doesn’t repeat itself in 2021.


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