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Chris Paul unleashes in 4th of Suns’ Game 1 win over Nuggets

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) shoots as Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) looks on during the second half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Monday, June 7, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Chris Paul winced and grabbed at his shoulder briefly when a Denver Nuggets collided with him trying to make a routine overhead pass minutes into the game.

He looked apprehensive about shooting very open threes.

His teammates didn’t look for him often on Monday at Phoenix Suns Arena.

But the Phoenix Suns point guard must have used some adrenaline to his advantage, as he scored 14 fourth-quarter points in a 122-105 victory over Denver in Game 1 of the teams’ second-round series.

“Just sort of trying to be aggressive, trying to stay aggressive. I missed a lot of shots early, especially start of third quarter,” Paul said.

Paul entered the fourth quarter with seven points on 2-of-8 shooting as Phoenix led 88-79. From there, he went nuts.

The point guard hit all six of his shots from the field in the fourth and along with three assists accounted for 20 of the Suns’ 34 fourth-quarter points.

“Chris has been in those moments so many times,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said. “I don’t think not making shots is going to rattle him. I think he’s more concerned trying to manage the game than he is his shooting percentage.”

Whether it was from three, mid-range or in attacking Denver’s interior, Paul appeared just fine four days after he reinjured a stinger in his right shoulder to close out the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the first round.

“It definitely loosens up,” Paul said. “One thing about it is you don’t get like no practice time. The only way you get a chance to see how it is is in a game.”

Paul got plenty of help in the blowout.

Deandre Ayton added 20 points and 10 boards, Devin Booker scored 21 as well and wing Mikal Bridges led the Suns with 23 points.

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