Phoenix Suns’ Season Ends With a Jaw-Dropping 123-90 loss, Chris Paul Says I am Not Retiring

chris paul

PHOENIX — Suns point guard Chris Paul’s season came to an end for the second year in a row when his club failed to defend a 2-0 series lead en route to a sad NBA playoff loss.

And, for the second year in a row, Paul felt forced to say that despite the tragedy, he had no plans to retire from the game.

“If you play long enough and don’t win, they’ll say it was your best shot,” Paul said after the Suns’ 123-90 loss in Game 7 of the Western Conference playoffs to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. “But I think we’ll be right back next year for me and us.” That much I can tell you.

“Thank God, I’m not retiring tomorrow.” Hopefully, I’ll be healthy when I return. But I’m still going to play.”

The outcome of the series paralleled Paul’s performance for the Suns. Phoenix took a 2-0 lead as he averaged 23.5 points and only two turnovers in the first two games, including a brilliant 14-point fourth quarter in Game 2. He averaged 9.4 points and 3.6 turnovers in his past five games, all of which occurred after his 37th birthday on May 6.

Phoenix lost four of its last five games, falling in a similar way to the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA finals, when two wins were followed by four defeats.

Paul was unproductive on Sunday, ending with 10 points and four assists but not hitting his first field goal until the third quarter, when the Suns were already down 40 points. According to ESPN, he literally staggered to the finish line due to a left quad problem that hampered his movement.

While Suns coach Monty Williams accepted responsibility for the loss after leading Phoenix to a franchise-record 64 wins in the regular season and the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs, Paul refused.

“I think we simply didn’t have enough,” Paul said after the Suns’ 30-point halftime deficit, which according to ESPN Stats & Information data was the greatest halftime difference in Game 7 history.

“I believe Mont mentioned it was his fault, but I believe it is my fault as the point guard and team captain.” To come out and double-check that you’re getting the appropriate photos and everything.”

Luka Doncic of the Mavericks kept pace with the Suns in the first half, scoring 27 points to match Phoenix’s total of 27. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Dallas led 57-27 at halftime and increased its lead to 46 points in the fourth quarter, the largest margin in a Game 7 in the last 25 years.

While Paul’s plus-minus for the regular season and playoffs combined was the lowest of his 17-year career (the Suns were outscored by 39 in the 31 minutes he played), his teammates weren’t much better.

Devin Booker, Phoenix’s only All-Star this season besides Paul, scored 11 points on 3-for-14 shooting, well below his average of 26.5 points per game in the previous two postseasons.

Booker noted, “They did an excellent job of getting the ball out of my hands and trapping every action I was in.”

Deandre Ayton, the Suns’ big man, finished with just five points and four rebounds. After exchanging words with Williams on the bench, he was pulled with 8:26 left in the third quarter and did not return to the game.

When asked why Ayton only played 17 minutes, the third-fewest minutes the former No. 1 choice has ever played in a game, Williams replied flatly, “It’s internal.”

The Suns’ coach, Jason Kidd, believes the gravity of the situation in the win-or-go-home game got to them.

“You could see early on that some of the burden was on them,” Kidd said, “because they missed some shots that they normally make.”

After then, the Suns made no excuses.

Williams commented, “We basically played our worst game of the season tonight.” “All year long, we’ve been hearing all the accolades, winning all the games, setting records, and all that stuff,” I told them. We’ve been taking everything in stride. You’ll have to take it [as well] tonight. That’s part of being a man.”

Phoenix became the third club in NBA history to win at least 64 games in the regular season yet not progress to the conference finals, joining the Dallas Mavericks in 2006-07 and the San Antonio Spurs in 2015-16.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Suns’ cumulative score difference of 60 points in Games 6 and 7 was the second-largest score differential in a postseason series, trailing only the Warriors’ 62-point victory over the St. Louis Bombers in 1962.

Booker described it as a “nice, old-fashioned ass-whooping.” “It’s starting to finish.”

Paul is now 3-5 in Game 7s in his career, with four straight losses, and the 2021-22 Suns have become a poster child for coming up short in critical moments.

As good as Doncic and the Mavericks looked on Sunday, the Suns had been a dominant club all season — the only team to rank in the top five on both offence and defence — until they weren’t. In less than 48 minutes, they went from having the best record in the NBA to having one of the worst postseason performances ever.

“Everything is a haze right now,” Paul stated. “The season is over. Everything is jarring.”

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More Details About Phoenix Suns

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The Phoenix Suns are a professional basketball club headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns are a member of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and have won three Western Conference titles since their inception in 1968. (1976, 1993, and 2021).

The Suns’ initial seasons were reasonably successful, and the team featured future Hall of Famer Connie Hawkins and “the Original Sun” Dick Van Arsdale. In 1976, a 42–40 Phoenix squad headed by veteran franchise favourites Alvan Adams and Paul Westphal went on a stunning postseason run, winning the first two rounds and advancing to the NBA finals, where they met the Boston Celtics in a thrilling six-game series.

The Suns were dominated in the sixth game and lost in triple overtime. The Suns drafted Walter Davis in 1977, and throughout his 11 years with the organisation, he set the franchise scoring record.

In the middle of the 1987–88 season, the Suns acquired point guard Kevin Johnson and signed free agency forward Tom Chambers in the off-season. The two would go on to form the nucleus of a resurgent squad that reached the conference finals in 1989 and 1990, the first two of the franchise’s 13 consecutive playoff appearances. In an attempt to win a championship in 1992, Phoenix acquired Charles Barkley, a perennial All-Star.

Barkley won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) in his first year in Phoenix, but the club lost in the NBA finals to the Chicago Bulls in 1993. During the rest of Barkley’s time with the Suns, the club failed to reach the finals again, and the team was forced to rebuild around the turn of the century.

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In 2002, the franchise drafted high school sensation Amar’e Stoudemire, and in 2004, they re-signed point guard Steve Nash (who had been picked by the Suns). Nash’s fast-paced approach complemented Stoudemire and forward Shawn Marion’s skill sets, transforming the Suns into an exciting high-scoring club. The Suns traded for big centre Shaquille O’Neal during the 2007–08 season in an attempt to establish a championship-caliber defence after their offensive firepower failed to get them past the conference finals.

O’Neal’s presence did not help the Suns advance past the first round of the playoffs, and he was traded away in 2009. In 2009–10, a youthful Suns team based on Nash and Stoudemire went on an outstanding run before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals. The following off-season, Stoudemire signed a free-agent contract with the New York Knicks, and the Suns began a string of losing seasons.

The Suns surprised many by adding 23 victories to their tally from the previous season, finishing with a 48–34 record and only missing out on postseason qualification in a historically strong Western Conference field. The recovery, however, was short-lived, and the Suns concluded the 2015–16 season with the fourth-worst record in the NBA (23–59), the first of three consecutive 20-win seasons that cemented Phoenix’s status as one of the league’s worst teams.

The Suns nearly made the playoffs after the 2019–20 NBA season, thanks to sharpshooter Devin Booker. That improvement paled in comparison to the following season, when a young Phoenix squad, coached by head coach Monty Williams, soared to the league’s second-best record in 2020–21 after trading for superstar point player Chris Paul in November 2020. The Suns then dominated the Western Conference playoffs, advancing to their third NBA finals appearance. The squad gained a 2–0 series lead over the Milwaukee Bucks, only to lose four straight games and miss out on its first NBA championship.

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