Tears welled in Chris Paul’s eyes. A message in black ink on his shoes said it all: Can’t give up now. Not when, after 16 years, he will finally play for an NBA title. Paul led the Phoenix Suns into their first NBA Finals in 28 years, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 130-103 on Wednesday night to close out the Western Conference finals in six games. “I was on a don’t-lose mission,” Paul said. “Just a lot of emotion. A lot of (things) going on.”
Paul scored 41 points and Devin Booker added 22 to send the Suns to their third finals appearance in franchise history. They will face either the Atlanta Hawks or Milwaukee Bucks, who are tied 2-2 in the East finals. “He was tired,” Suns coach Monty Williams said of Paul. “He was still making those kind of plays, getting to the basket, 3s, orchestrating everything.
“He has persevered through a lot — injuries, playoff heartbreak.” Paul missed the first two games against the Clippers after testing positive for the coronavirus. He injured his shoulder in the first round against the Lakers. Add in numerous surgeries and making the conference finals one other time, only to fall short.