There will be at least another two games.
Down 2-1, the Phoenix Suns came up with a big-time win in Game 4 to tie their first-round series with the Los Angeles Lakers up at 2-2.
It was a balanced attack for the Suns, led by Chris Paul, who scored a team-high 18 points and dished out a game-high nine assists. Devin Booker and Jae Crowder were Phoenix's second-leading scorers with 17 points each.
LeBron James did a little bit of everything for the Lakers with 25 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, but it wasn't quite enough.
For more on the game, here are some takeaways at the buzzer...
1. The injury report
There was a chance that Paul and Anthony Davis wouldn't play in Game 4.
Both were originally listed as questionable, Paul because of his shoulder injury and Davis because of a sprained left knee. Davis did say that there was "no chance" he wouldn't play, but Paul was a real game-time decision by the sound of it.
While Paul and Davis were eventually given the green light, the Lakers were down one starter in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was ruled out with a knee contusion. He's considered to be day-to-day.
2. Bringing it off the bench
LeBron led the Lakers in scoring in the first quarter with seven points. The team's second-leading scorer? Marc Gasol.
Gasol came off the bench to score five points in five minutes of play, knocking down a 3-pointer to get himself on the board...
Another Anthony Davis post-up, this time backs Booker down. Difference with having Gasol in the lineup is he can space. He can also be one pass away which makes those digs come from a big (not a familiar spot). Ayton is digging down but gets too deep, open 3. pic.twitter.com/ZiVvsXIQ90- Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) May 30, 2021
...followed by a putback in the closing seconds of the quarter to give the Lakers a one-point lead.
Gasol just makes winning plays. Everyone watches Kuzma's shot got up and he crashes the glass. Winning plays make a big difference. pic.twitter.com/5rKJzxHm1A- Mo Dakhil (@MoDakhil_NBA) May 30, 2021
It still feels like the Lakers are figuring out their centre rotation, but having Gasol, Andre Drummond, Montrezl Harrell and, of course, Davis to turn to is quite the luxury. Gasol was Los Angeles' best big in Game 4, posting 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three blocks in 23 minutes.
3. Don't take LeBron for granted
Speaking of LeBron, he threw one of his best passes of the season early in the second quarter.
Just look at this madness:
This Bron dime to McLemore 🤯 pic.twitter.com/YcQWTH3cKV- NBA TV (@NBATV) May 30, 2021
LeBron then did this less than a minute later:
LeBron SPIN AND SLAM 😤 pic.twitter.com/ocJXz06rl0- NBA TV (@NBATV) May 30, 2021
Followed by this closer to the end of the second quarter:
CARUSO OFF THE BACKBOARD TO BRON 😱 pic.twitter.com/PvmHP4aYwZ- NBA TV (@NBATV) May 30, 2021
Yeah, that ankle is looking pretty good.
4. CP3 climbs the ladder(s)
Congratulations are in order!
Paul recorded the 923rd assist of his postseason career with 9:12 remaining in the second quarter, moving him past Maurice Cheeks (922) for 17th-most all-time.
Next up: Kevin Johnson, who dished out 935 assists in his postseason career.
Congrats to @CP3 of the @Suns for moving up to 17th on the #NBAPlayoffs ASSISTS list! pic.twitter.com/SpGZnX5Q43- NBA (@NBA) May 30, 2021
Paul also moved into 18th place on the all-time playoffs steals list in this one.
5. An early exit for Davis
Bad news for the Lakers: Davis suffered a left groin strain near the end of the first half and did not return.
Davis ended up playing 19 minutes in Game 4, scoring six points on 2-for-9 shooting from the field to go along with four rebounds and three assists.
Stick with NBA.com for updates on his condition.
6. CP3 is ... back?
Good news for the Suns: Paul looked pretty good in this one.
In the first half, Paul led the way with a game-high five assists. In the third quarter, he led the Suns in the scoring column with eight points on 3-for-5 shooting from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line.
Paul might not be all the way back - we are talking about someone who will likely make an All-NBA team this season and was on the shortlist of MVP candidates - but he looked much more confident in Game 4, and he sure let the Lakers know about it.
CP gets to his spot.. it's good.@Suns 68@Lakers 56 #NBAPlayoffs on ABC pic.twitter.com/si0M3nTj0c- NBA (@NBA) May 30, 2021
Paul entered Game 4 averaging 6.7 points and 6.3 assists on 38.1 percent shooting from the field in the series. He finished Game 4 with 18 points and nine assists on 7-for-15 shooting.
If the Suns can get that version of Paul the rest of the way, this series could get very interesting.
7. Make that four in a row
Someone who was playing well for the Suns entering Game 4? Deandre Ayton.
In the first three games, Ayton averaged 21.7 points and 12.3 rebounds on 82.1 percent (!) shooting from the field. He continued his strong play in Game 4, recording his fourth straight double-double with 14 points and 17 rebounds on 6-for-8 shooting from the field.
Like Paul, Ayton was at his best in the third quarter. He's more of a finesse player, but Ayton went into bully mode with Davis not in the game.
🍿 pic.twitter.com/iGPdfFX0sU- Phoenix Suns (@Suns) May 30, 2021
8. What's next
Tied at 2-2, Game 5 will take place in Phoenix on Tuesday, June 1 (ET). Huge game for both teams. Should be a fun one.
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