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Phoenix Suns' Chris Paul dishes out assists, compliments in win vs. Denver Nuggets

The Point God moves in mysterious ways. He moves through others, and quite literally if you're the Denver defense.

What Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone described was otherworldly. 

"Chris Paul doesn't see us, he doesn't feel us, and we're not impacting what he's trying to do in any way, shape or form," he said.

You see, the Point God moves in mysterious ways. He moves through others — quite literally if you're the Denver defense.

Suns point guard Chris Paul racked up a smooth 15 assists without a turnover on Wednesday, as the Phoenix Suns routed the Denver Nuggets, 123-98, to take a 2-0 series lead.

"Obviously, 15 assists (and) zero turnovers is unheard of," Suns guard Devin Booker said. "But for Chris Paul, it's a thing that he does, and makes it look normal."

And it is a thing that he does more times than the rest of the NBA combined. With 17 points as well, Paul became the first player with 15 points, 15 assists and zero turnovers in a game since he himself did it last in 2014. He did it in 2008 as well. He is the only player in league history to do it three times. The rest of the NBA combined has done it twice: Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd each once. 

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"He manages games better than anybody I've ever been around," Suns coach Monty Williams said. "Once he gets an idea of the offense and the guys he's playing with, he has the ability to use his talents to make everybody better, and then he knows when to take over in moments."

Dishing out assists is nothing new for Paul, who's in his 16th season. His career high is 21 in a game, and his playoff high is 17 in a game. This season, he climbed up the NBA record book, and is sitting at fifth all time. It's a large part of what he was brought in to do. 

But for Paul, the success also stems from those around him. He was quick to dish out compliments first to teammates and then to coaches for the performance. He says he hasn't been on a team like this before, one "where everybody shoots it the way they do."

"I've got the easy part. All I gotta do is find 'em. They gotta make the shots," Paul said. 

"It's a credit to our coaching staff, to tell you the truth. The things that we drilled all season long, it's so nice to see when they come into play in game form, especially in the playoffs. We drilled point-5, make the next pass, and trust, and that's how we play."

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) passes the ball while defended by Denver Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo (7) during the second quarter in Game 2 in Phoenix. June 9, 2021.

Over the last three games, Paul has 38 assists and just two turnovers. He said his shoulder is feeling fine, which his game certainly backs up. His teammates agree.

"I feel like he's back," Booker said. "He's back, and he's feeling it."

Paul also says it's not a matter of his shoulder needing time to loosen up. The bulk of his scoring came late, with eight points in the fourth quarter, in just 3:25. But ahead of that, he'd already tallied 13 assists. He uses the beginning on any games to run diagnostics on the opposing defense, and on Wednesday night, it was Denver that did not pass. 

"Guys have to make shots, but Chris is one of the rare guards that can put passes right where they need to be, so guys are more effective when they catch the ball," Williams said. "And his ability to take care of the ball, even when he has it a lot, it's not something I take for granted. Our team doesn't take it for granted. 

"It's why he's been successful everywhere he's been."

More:Somers: Hey, Nuggets, your trip to Phoenix could have been worse. At least the weather cooperated

Reach the reporter at kfitzgeral@gannett.com or 480-356-6407. Follow her on Twitter @kfitz134.

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