Chris Paul returns to starting lineup for Suns in Game 3 of WCF vs. Clippers

Jun 24, 2021, 6:08 PM | Updated: 10:53 pm
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Chris Paul returned to the Suns’ starting lineup in Phoenix’s 106-92 loss in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals to the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center.

The Point God finished with 15 points, 12 assists and three steals in just under 39 minutes played.

Paul was joined by Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder and Deandre Ayton.

The Clippers rolled out Reggie Jackson, Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Terance Mann and Ivica Zubac in what was a must-win for the club, as no team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 hole.

Paul had not played since a Game 4 victory in the conference semifinals on June 13 that completed a sweep of the Denver Nuggets.

He missed the first two games of the Western Conference Finals due to being in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

He tested positive for COVID-19 on June 16, despite taking the Pfizer vaccine in February, according to Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro.

Cam Payne stepped up in place of Paul by turning in the best game of his career in the Game 2 win, leading the Suns with 29 points, nine rebounds and an assist.

However, Payne left the game after the first quarter due to a left ankle injury and did not return.

Booker, meanwhile, got the start but with an extra piece of gear.

After suffering a broken nose during Game 2 by colliding heads with Clippers guard Pat Beverley and requiring stitches, Booker wore a plastic guard on his face.

He scored 15 points on 5-of-21 shooting (23.8%).

The Suns will once again look to move one win away from a trip to the NBA Finals in Game 4 on Saturday.

Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. and all the action can be heard on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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