Chris Paul doesn’t have the best relationship with every single NBA referee, but he was definitely on the same page with the officiating crew for Friday night’s game between the Suns and Nuggets.
During the fourth quarter of Phoenix’s 116-102 win, Denver star Nikola Jokic, who had formally accepted his MVP trophy before the start of Game 3, erupted in anger after a drive to the basket against Suns center Deandre Ayton. Jokic seemed to think he had been fouled, but referee Ben Taylor watched the sequence play out and felt that Jokic simply lost control of the ball.
“The Joker” was . . . not in a laughing mood.
Paul inserted himself into the picture and pushed for a technical foul on Jokic, the most CP3 thing he could possibly do in that moment. Taylor then quickly pulled the trigger. Paul walked to the other end of the court and hit the technical free throw, of course.
The 11-time All-Star continued what has been a terrific stretch, filling up the Game 3 box score with 27 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Paul has looked much more like himself after struggling with a shoulder injury in the first round of the NBA playoffs, particularly when he knows it’s time to shut the door on the Nuggets.
Chris Paul’s fourth quarter stats in this series: 30 points, 12-of-13 FG, 4-of-4 from 3, eight assists, zero turnovers, +20 in three games.
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 12, 2021
That technical foul didn’t matter much in the end as the Suns cruised to their sixth consecutive playoff win and captured a commanding 3-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
But hey, he wouldn’t be Chris Paul if he didn’t look for every possible competitive advantage.