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Chris Paul's Circus Shot Caps A Dominant Finish As The Suns Shrug Off A Resurgent Russell Westbrook To Take 3-1 Series Lead

No matter how many times Phoenix Suns Point God Chris Paul gets knocked down, labeled "washed" or incessantly made fun of for not winning a championship to date, this fucking guy just keeps getting up.

At almost 38 years young, CP3 took command with 12 fourth-quarter points to help the Suns to their second straight road win. 

Proficient of a distributor as ever. And on a squad where he shares the court with two younger world-class scorers in Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, it was Paul's time to take over.

I love their reactions to that nutso shot, too. Classic.

Injuries are part of sports. I get it. You can only use them as an excuse to a certain extent. Nevertheless, I'm pining to see the alternate timeline where Kawhi Leonard stays healthy for this whole series and we get this version of Russell Westbrook.

Millions of basketball fans had written Russ off, myself included. That's quite the understatement. Thought he was a shell of his former self on the hardwood. This series is proving that is far from the case. With an endorsement from his ex-Thunder teammate Paul George — also injured, hasn't played in the postseason — Russ got a second wind somehow. Fueled by doubters and I'm sure all the negative press from his maligned Lakers tenure, he is taking it the hell out on anyone who stands in his way.

I've always loved Russ' personality and the sheer effort with which he plays. I just always wished he'd be a lot more judicious with his shot selection and not so erratic. Russ has been the most baffling, frustrating and oftentimes hilarious basketball player I've ever watched. Then you're inevitably wowed by at least a few plays every night, for better or worse. He only knows one speed. That's the Russell Westbrook Experience in a nutshell. And yet somehow…I can't remember the last time I ever saw him play this well.

…And that's in spite of — #CONSPIRACY — getting zero help from the refs.

KD and Booker combined to go 17-for-19 on free throw attempts. Not to take anything away from the Suns. Don't get this twisted to that extreme. They're a collective force of nature. 

That Paul, KD, and Booker are managing to bury the Clippers in a 3-1 hole in spite of Westbrook's brilliance is a testament to how tough Phoenix is. Tyronn Lue is among the NBA's best tactical coaches. He's throwing everything at the Suns. Benefiting from the best possible scenario imaginable when the Clippers first acquired Westbrook. Even got 42 points from Norman Powell in Game 3. Still hasn't been nearly enough.

Although this Westbrook run may be lost to history if the Suns take care of business at home and bounce the Clippers in Game 5, it's worth remembering that CP3 has had some pretty rotten injury luck his entire career. If anyone knows the pain of that to such an extreme degree, it's him. 

I'm not trying to trivialize the situation or say "the basketball gods are paying him back!" or anything like that. This is more of a celebration and call-out about how Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook have been dealt a lot of shitty hands, and their relentless competitive fire keeps them coming back for more. They're still flashing elite levels of performance while playing their own styles within the construct of teams designed to maximize what they have left in the tank. Both have plenty left to give. 

It sucks we won't see but maybe one more game of this. But hey, that's the nature of the NBA playoffs. Or any playoffs, ya know. Survive and advance. While Westbrook won't advance like Paul will, both these floor generals aren't just surviving. They're thriving. And it's awesome to see.

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok