Chris Paul, Suns Even Series with LeBron James, Lakers; Anthony Davis Injured

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIMay 30, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 30: Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns dribbles the ball during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers during Round 1, Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 30, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. 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 Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are back in it.

An incredibly balanced effort, led by 18 points from Chris Paul, led the Suns to a 100-92 defeat of the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, evening the series at 2-2.

For the Lakers, who won Games 2 and 3, LeBron James scored 25 points. 

Notable Performers

  • Deandre Ayton, Suns: 14 PTS, 17 REB
  • Chris Paul, Suns: 18 PTS, 9 AST, 3 REB
  • Devin Booker, Suns: 17 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST
  • LeBron James, Lakers: 25 PTS, 12 REB, 6 AST 

After Slow Start, Balanced Effort Leads Suns

The Suns have been haunted since Chris Paul suffered a shoulder injury in the first game of this series. He missed practice Saturday in order to rest the injury, which has been categorized as a "right shoulder contusion and a stinger." 

"We’re just waiting for that [soreness] to go away," head coach Monty Williams told reporters Saturday. "There’s really nothing else we can do."

His silence is hurting the Suns, who won 99-90 in Game 1 but dropped the next two to the Lakers. Overall, Paul is averaging 6.7 points, 6.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds on 38.1 percent shooting, a far cry from his 16.4 points, 8.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds in the regular season. 

He was in the lineup, but largely unproductive through the first half. Forced to look elsewhere, Phoenix got off to a less than encouraging start as Jae Crowder continued to miss shots from deep—but keep trying.

Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42

Since Game 3 of the 2020 NBA Finals, Jae Crowder has shot 9-50 from 3.<br><br>He is now 2-21 in this series.

Dan Woike @DanWoikeSports

Jae Crowder just isn't missing shots. He's MISSING them

He hit his stride in the second quarter and entered the half with 10 points (and two made threes) to help add some depth behind Devin Booker, who led all scorers with 15 points in the half. 

Phoenix Suns @Suns

COUNT IT. pic.twitter.com/M2gRDv1vKt

Booker didn't add more points through the third quarter, but he had support from the rest of the lineup, with four other players in double-digits by the time there were 12 minutes left. The balance was enough to help them hang on to the lead.  

LeBron Has Little Help to Lead the Lakers
The Lakers, who were in the bottom tier of NBA teams when it came to three-point shooting in the regular season (hitting 35.4 percent from deep to rank 21st), were saved by their action from deep in the first half. 

After hitting nine threes in the first halves of Games 1-3 combined, the Lakers hit nine of their 24 attempts from beyond the arc in the first half of Sunday's game, entering the break down by four points.

Dan Woike @DanWoikeSports

Here's a weird sentence - The Lakers would be lost today without their three-point shooting.

Wesley Matthews and Ben McLemore each hit two of their three attempts, while five other Lakers accounted for one each. 

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

First shot of his first Playoffs start as a Laker. Did you expect anything less? pic.twitter.com/rs2Vj0J7ph

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Bron is ridiculous 🤯<br><br>(via @NBATV)pic.twitter.com/S01LTV17nI

LeBron James was the Lakers' leading scorer with 11 points, but every Lakers player scored, and all but Andre Drummond (who scored three) were good for at least five points entering the break. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

CARUSO TO BRON pic.twitter.com/0nN1Tu9WDW

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

LEBRON SLAMS IT OFF THE BACKBOARD 🤯<br><br>(Via @NBATV)pic.twitter.com/sm8WWgREUx

Anthony Davis was among the supporting cast in the first half, scoring six points, but the star—who suffered a left knee sprain during Game 3—didn't make it back onto the court for the second half. He was ruled out with a left groin strain. 

Kyle Kuzma got the start in his place in the second half but only had nine points in 20 minutes by the time the fourth quarter got going. Montrezl Harrell made his first appearance at the start of the fourth, but for all of the extra effort, there wasn't enough power to keep the Lakers in it. 

James ended the night with 25 points, while Marc Gasol only had 12 as the second-leading scorer for the defending champions. 

What's Next? 

The series returns to Phoenix for Game 5, set for Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.