As the Phoenix Suns slowly managed to climb back from a gigantic lead by the Dallas Mavericks on their feisty season opener, it was noticeable and perhaps intriguing that Chris Paul wasn’t on the hardwood.
Being one of the premiere and deadliest closers the game has ever seen, Paul, being off the bench during a crunch time sounds unusual in hindsight. But head coach Monty Williams offered plenty of insights of sticking on his decision of barring the future hall of famer to make a check-in on the crucial moments of their come from behind win over Dallas.
“I’m always open-minded in those situations,” Williams said, via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “As much as you want to have Chris out there, I know Chris wants to win. When I took him out, my plan was to get him back in there at three [minutes].
“Then the game was just going in a good way and Cam was playing well, so I didn’t want to take him out. I didn’t think it was that big of a decision, but I guess it is because it’s Chris.”
Sitting on the sidelines, Paul can only watch the remaining 6:41 of the West powerhouse battle. He also has been experiencing a tough night with six points in only one-of-six field goals made to go with nine assists, three boards and three turnovers in 30 minutes of activity.
As such, it was Cameron Payne who took over the navigation of the Suns’ eventual comeback, with Damion Lee being the unsung hero due to his late marvelous shots.
The Mavs were still boasting a 12-point lead when the all-time great took a breather. And as the buzzer sounded, the Suns capped off an amazing little redemption contextualized by their notorious collapse last season.
“I think any time you win in the NBA, it’s cool,” Williams noted. “But to beat the team that knocked you out, it doesn’t erase that feeling, that hurt, but it does help you grow.”