PHOENIX — The story of Tuesday night's game between the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans began as the return of former Suns assistant coach Willie Green to the Valley, but quickly changed as point guard Chris Paul continued to show why he is called the "Point God."
Paul began the night 5th on the NBA's All-Time Assists List with 10,328 assists. By halftime, he had passed both Mark Jackson and Suns legend Steve Nash to move into 3rd place.
"We keep acting like this is normal," Suns guard Devin Booker said. "We go in the locker room after like 'Oh, you passed Steve Nash, Mark Jackson (and got the) game ball.' It's bigger than that, it really is. Obviously I knew he was going to be close coming into today but he passed it by a lot. I'm happy to be a part of it. Just being a fan and just inspired by it, honestly. I've been a fan for a really long time, so it's really fun to see, it's really fun to be a part of it. And a long time from now, I'll get to say I played with Chris Paul."
Paul finished the game with 18 assists, raising his career total to 10,346. It could still be a while before Paul moves into 2nd place, however. To do that, he would need 1,745 more assists to pass former Sun Jason Kidd, who had 12,091 in his NBA career. Suns head coach Monty Williams says it is great to watch Paul play every night.
"I'm just happy to be along for the ride," Williams said. "When we traded for Chris I had no idea because I don't look at all that stuff. The work that he's put in is not surprising. We don't take it for granted but I've watched him work. I've watched him sacrifice, I've watched him change his diet, I've seen the lifting and all the people that he has in his program that work on his body. He wants to win and wants to do all this stuff. So to see him pass these people on the lists, assists, points, steals all of that, I'm just happy to be along for the ride, man, it's pretty cool to watch greatness."
Paul is 5,460 assists behind the NBA's All-Time leader, John Stockton, but Paul admitted that he doesn't think he'll be able to pass Stockton.
"I've looked at that list when I first came into the league and seeing that John Stockton and I was like, 'I'm going to get it,'" Paul said. "That ship sailed. I don't know, it sailed a while ago when I started missing all those games. But to be third and still be playing, I'm grateful for it and still got a ways to go."
Paul also had 14 points Tuesday night to go with his 18 assists, helping spark a Suns comeback, as they went into halftime down by 11, but ultimately won the game 112-100.
"Tonight he had a segment that was just textbook Chris," Williams said. "He just wasn't going to allow us to lose the game. And he was talking and getting guys in their spots. He makes it a lot easier on our team and we have to do a better job of making it on him because teams are blitzing him and that really affected him early in the game and then he started to figure it out a little bit and guys were in the right spots and he started picking them apart."
The Suns will be back on the court at Footprint Center Thursday night when they host the Houston Rockets. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.