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Paul stars as Suns beat Nuggets to take control of play-off series


Paul stars as Suns beat Nuggets to take control of play-off series


Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns
Chris Paul’s two previous play-off games with 15 assists and no turnovers were in 2008 and 2014

Point guard Chris Paul scored 17 points and set an NBA play-off record as he helped the Phoenix Suns to a 123-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Paul, 36, became the first player to rack up three play-off games with 15 assists and no turnovers.

An emphatic win gave the Suns a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semi-finals series.

It was the Nuggets’ heaviest defeat of the season, with head coach Michael Malone calling it “embarrassing”.

Devin Booker scored a team-best 18 points for the Suns, who have now won five consecutive post-season games.

Every Suns starter scored double figures, and Paul said: “It was a team effort, once again.”

Chris Paul shoots for the Phoenix Suns
Paul scored 17 points to go with his 15 assists

Denver’s Nikola Jokic, who was announced on Wednesday as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, was the visitors’ most influential player with 24 points, 13 rebounds and six assists – more than his side’s other starters combined – despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter.

“This was just an embarrassing performance all the way around, from top to bottom,” said head coach Malone.

“I saw one team that wanted to be here, played with purpose and urgency, and one team that did not want to be here and played with no urgency.”

Game three will be played in Denver on Friday.

Defensive award for Gobert

Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert, who has a 7ft 9in wingspan, becomes only the fourth player in NBA history to win DPOY award three times.

Elsewhere, the NBA announced that Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert is the 2020-21 Defensive Player of the Year.

It is the third time the 7ft 1in Frenchman has won the award, this time earning 84 of 100 first-place votes.

“When I started basketball as I kid, if somebody would have told me that I was going to be defensive player of the year [once], let alone three times, I would have never believed them,” he said after picking up his award.

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