Generally, not many storylines come out of a 30-point blowout loss. For the most part, that was the case for the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns in Game 5.
However, Chris Paul appeared to re-injure his shoulder on a box-out by Wesley Matthews in the third quarter. In the moment, Paul seemed visibly upset at Matthews, despite the play being deemed a common foul.
In real-time and in the replay, Matthews appeared to simply be fighting for positioning without any intent of hurting Paul. The review upheld that ruling, and Paul wound up being able to stay in the game to take his free throws despite it being a re-aggravation of the same shoulder he hurt in Game 1. He was then removed from the game, although that was likely precautionary given the score.
Suns forward Jae Crowder said after the game that he had a talk with Matthews to get his perspective on what happened in that moment and both he and Paul made sure to express to Matthews that it wasn’t a dirty play, according to Duane Rankin of AZCentral:
Jae Crowder said he talked to Wesley Matthews about the play with Chris Paul and Matthews told him he didn't intentionally try to hurt him
Crowder said Matthews is his little brother as both went to Marquette.
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) June 2, 2021
While it’s certainly respectful of Crowder and Paul to say that it wasn’t a dirty play, it was also very unnecessary as there was nothing that happened that could even be construed as unsportsmanlike. Matthews was very obviously trying to get a rebound and was barely looking at Paul when the contact was made.
In addition, Crowder and Paul have already had poor sportsmanship moments of their own during this series that have not been called out by the Lakers in any way. In Game 1, Paul yanked on LeBron James’ shoulder while going for a rebound, and Crowder had another hard foul on James later in the series while also hitting Kyle Kuzma in the face on a 3-point attempt.
Hopefully, this moment of the game can be moved on from and Paul can continue playing at a high level. Now, all focus needs to turn to Game 6, when the Lakers face elimination from the playoffs for the first time since James and Anthony Davis teamed up together.
Vogel says Lakers will find out what they’re made of in Game 6
After an embarrassing blowout loss on Tuesday, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel gave his honest thoughts on the demeanor of the team.
“We’ll find out,” Vogel said when asked how the team will respond to such an embarrassing loss. “We’ll find out what we’re made of and we’ll find out how bad we want this.”
If the Lakers show some heart and hit their shots in Game 6, they may be able to force a win-or-go-home Game 7 back in Phoenix.
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