Devin Booker Says Chris Paul's Shoulder Injury Got Suns 'More Locked In' vs. Lakers

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 24, 2021

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 23: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns is interviewed after the game against the Los Angeles Lakers during Round 1, Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 23, 2021 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Devin Booker said after the Phoenix Suns' 99-90 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their first round series that the team buckled down after Chris Paul had to temporarily leave the game in the first half with a right shoulder injury. 

"Chris went down early, I think that got our team more locked in," he told ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "To understand that every possession matters. That was a big win for us."

Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols

Great catching up with @DevinBook after that crazy-impressive performance today. Dropped 34 (Suns record for a playoff debut) against the defending champs, with Chris Paul in and out of the game. Book’s clearly been waiting for this moment, and he rose to the occasion. pic.twitter.com/R7oyAaImmJ

While Paul played 36 minutes in the win, he looked limited and hesitant to shoot after suffering the injury, finishing with seven points (3-of-8 from the field) and eight assists. 

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Chris Paul was shaken up after this play and headed to the locker room. pic.twitter.com/qvr79pSG1J

Kellan Olson @KellanOlson

Chris Paul on if he will be good for Game 2: "Absolutely."

Kellan Olson @KellanOlson

Chris Paul's answer on what happened: "I don't know, I ain't seen it yet. I ain't seen it yet. I was going up and I just remember I heard like a crack or whatever, so. Yeah."<br><br>Gave the "absolutely" line for Game 2 after that.

Kellan Olson @KellanOlson

Chris Paul said with a laugh that Willie Green told him "all they took away was your shooting." <br><br>(As in, you can still impact this game even though you physically cannot shoot well)

No matter. Booker (34 points, eight assists) and DeAndre Ayton (21 points, 16 rebounds) more than picked up the slack. 

Booker in particular praised the young Ayton for his big performance.

"That's next level," Booker told reporters. "You could see it in his face pregame that he was ready to go. As a collective whole, us being on him a lot during the game, getting him prepared for this moment and he responded to it and he stepped up, so that's big-time."

The Suns more than proved the moment wasn't too big for them against the defending champion Lakers. There was some question coming into Sunday if a Suns team that was largely devoid of playoff experience would be able to rise to the occasion. 

So far, so good.