With Chris Paul clearly favoring his right shoulder, Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams said it was his decision to keep his star point guard on the bench for the majority of the second half of Tuesday night’s 109-102 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of their first-round series.
Paul, who suffered a right shoulder contusion in the second quarter of the Suns’ Game 1 win, wasn’t on the injury report Tuesday but played with a thin wrap around much of the shoulder. He played 23 minutes, including just seven minutes in the second half, when he had one point and two assists.
“I took him out, that was all me,” Williams said. “Just looking at him holding his arm the way he was holding it, I just couldn’t watch him run like that, trying to make plays. He battled. He’s a warrior, we all know that. I just made a decision to take him out.”
Paul finished with six points on 2-of-5 shooting, along with five assists and three rebounds.
Paul’s injury occurred Sunday when he bumped into teammate Cameron Johnson and fell to the floor in obvious pain while holding his right shoulder. He said afterward that he “heard a crack” when he suffered the injury. Paul briefly left the court, and although he returned a few minutes later, he didn’t look right, dribbling mostly with his left hand.
After the Game 2 loss, Williams said he didn’t have specific details of Paul’s injury or availability for Friday’s Game 3, but he said it was “pretty obvious” that Paul’s shoulder was compromised.
“He’s not able to make the passes he wants. He was laboring tonight,” Williams said. “I don’t want to get into too many details until I talk to him about it, but you can see he wasn’t even running the way he ran and dribbled the ball this morning. We’re hopeful it’ll get better over the next 48 hours.”
Suns guard Devin Booker, who had a team-high 31 points Tuesday, said he was hopeful that Paul would be ready for Game 3.
“That’s Chris, man. He’s gonna fight. He’s a warrior out there,” Booker said. “I know he doesn’t want anything more than to win these games. I know he’s going to do everything in his power to be out there. Obviously still bothering him. We have a short couple days he can get some recovery and treatment in. Hopefully get it right for next game. “
The Associated Press contributed to this report.