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Cam Payne is Suns’ X-factor vs. Lakers with Chris Paul’s health in doubt


Cam Payne had the night of his life on Tuesday. Despite the Phoenix Suns losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of their first-round series, the former Murray State standout dropped 19 points off the bench while also dishing out seven assists. Most of his offensive contributions came in the second half as well after Chris Paul was ultimately sidelined due to soreness in his shoulder.

CP3 has not looked like the same player since going down with that injury in Game 1. He’s been timid to take jump shots and even when Paul does shoot the rock, it’s not fluent. This shoulder is clearly bothering him and unfortunately, there simply isn’t time for the 11-time All-Star to recover if the Suns want to advance.
While Devin Booker continues to show out after another impressive 31-point performance, Paul’s health is uncertain at this point. It’s up in the air to how much he can really play in the series if the shoulder doesn’t get better. Cam Payne, this is your time to step up alongside Book.
Sure, Payne’s NBA career has been rocky to this point. But right now, he has the chance to make a statement on the big stage for the Suns. Tuesday was the perfect example. The 26-year-old hit numerous clutch threes late in the second half, including a game-tying one with seven minutes left in the fourth which Deandre Ayton followed up with a huge dunk.
On the night, Payne went 3 for 7 from downtown and was getting to the hoop at will. The confidence and sheer heart that he showed against the best defense in the Association were remarkable. Then defensively, the Suns’ guard is an absolute pest. It’s obviously going to be hard to slow down LeBron, AD, and Schroder, especially when the latter plays as he did on Tuesday, but Payne is going to give his all. You saw that in Game 2 on both ends of the floor.
CP3 is the engine of the offense, don’t get me wrong. However, Booker and Deandre Ayton cannot do this alone. The supporting cast must step up, especially if their primary facilitator in Paul is playing limited minutes. If Cam Payne can play at this level on a nightly basis in this series, they will have a legitimate chance of eliminating the Lakers.
 

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