PHOENIX SUNS

Suns’ Monty Williams explains why Chris Paul remained benched in comeback

Oct 20, 2022, 9:02 AM

Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul took a seat with 6:41 remaining in the fourth quarter Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks, a typical breather period for the 37-year-old.

Paul had played just over 30 minutes, and head coach Monty Williams typically rests Paul before the point guard re-enters to close the game.

Wednesday went differently, though, as Paul never checked back in during Phoenix’s 107-105 win to open the season.

Reserves Cameron Payne and Damion Lee closed the game in place of the 12-time All-Star and Cam Johnson, who was dealing with leg cramping.

Williams stuck with the rotation that was working in the moment.

“I usually give him a three-minute break and then I bring him in to close,” Williams said postgame. “That’s been the rotation for us. But Cam (Payne) came in, we had a good rhythm. I just felt like it was the move to just stay with Cam. Chris was engaged … it was almost like he was out there.”

The Suns trailed by 10 when Paul checked out, and they came back after Lee hit the game-winning jumper with 9.7 seconds left.

Payne scored five points in the final five minutes, and Lee finished with 11 fourth-quarter points.

“Cam did such a good job with that group,” Williams added. “That group as a whole was pretty good on both ends, so I just rolled with it.”

The Suns’ defense closed the game out strong, as well, holding Dallas to 10 points in the final 6:41.

Payne said Paul was coaching him from the sidelines and affecting the game in another way.

“That’s big time coming from him,” Payne said.

Paul did not have his best shooting night with six points on six shots.

However, he still put his stamp on the game as a catalyst in Phoenix’s third-quarter comeback. Paul had five assists and two steals with four points in the period, as the Suns cut a 22-point deficit to five by the start of the fourth.

“As much as you want to have Chris out there, I know Chris wants to win,” Williams said. “And when I took him out my plan was to get them back in … I didn’t think it was that big of a decision, but I guess it is because it’s Chris.”

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