Phoenix Suns star duo Devin Booker and Chris Paul went through rough shooting nights in the Game 3 loss, with both players dealing with their own adversity heading in.
Chris Paul hit the floor for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19, while Booker came off suffering a serious nose injury in Game 2.
The pair combined for just 30 points on 40 shots, with head coach Monty Williams discussing the off nights for the duo.
"You could see some flashes," Williams said of Paul. "I thought I played him too much and he probably got tired but it hurt us when Cam Payne couldn't come back so I left Chris out there for longer stretches and that's on me. But I think as he practices more and plays more, he hasn't done anything for ten days, so I think he'll get better."
Paul played 38 minutes on the night, with Williams referring to a left ankle sprain suffered by Cameron Payne that limited him to just four minutes in the game.
"He tried to come back and it just wouldn't allow him to get back on the floor so I'll get more of an update when I go out back," Williams said.
CP3 to Ayton.- NBA (@NBA) June 25, 2021
Book to Ayton.
The @Suns backcourt finding their big on rim runs early in Game 3 on ESPN! #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/WfAc6VUBlJ
For Booker, it was an interesting lead-up to the game, with the star guard requiring a procedure to put his nose back in place prior to the team travelling to LA.
"That was probably the worst part. It's a procedure they usually put you under for but we had a flight out a couple of hours later so they just numbed it up all over the place, like eight shots to numb it up," Booker explained.
"I went in there and they break it again, they put it back in place. That was my first time experiencing that but they said Cam Johnson went through it so I knew I could," he said with a laugh.
Wearing a protective mask for the first time in his career, Booker denied it was too much of a distraction before revealing he did speak with Detroit Pistons legend Rip Hamilton, who was famous for wearing a face mask for the majority of his career.
The Masked Man! 📚 @DevinBook gets loose for Game 3 on ESPN. #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/uwv98rRSBb- NBA (@NBA) June 25, 2021
"It's fine honestly. I honestly don't see it or it doesn't affect me. I did talk to RIP about it, I've been preaching for a while he's my favourite player of all-time. I've had short conversations with him in the past and I thought this was the perfect time to talk to him some more and get some advice."
"He said he stuck with it because putting it on his face put him in character, he felt comfortable getting in the paint, he had extra protection, an extra layer and said just don't worry about it, don't let it be a distraction to you."
On top of the mask, Booker had to deal with relentless defensive attention from Pat Beverley, who has shadowed the Suns star over the last two games.
"He's ultra-aggressive. He's denying, limiting touches. He has one objective out there and we understand that so I feel like other things should open up."
"I know I missed some I usually make or should make but it's part of the game."
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