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NBA playoffs: Chris Paul leads Suns past Pelicans in Game 1

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul made 12 of 16 shots for a game-high 30 points Sunday at Footprint Center in Phoenix. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/baf57bc8b8b3334f4ac00500b2b3c855/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul made 12 of 16 shots for a game-high 30 points Sunday at Footprint Center in Phoenix. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

April 18 (UPI) -- Veteran guard Chris Paul scored 19 of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 110-99 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series in Phoenix.

Paul made 12 of 16 shots and totaled 10 assists and seven rebounds in the victory Sunday Footprint Center. Suns center Deandre Ayton chipped in 21 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.

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''That man's a true competitor, a true winner,'' Suns guard Devin Booker told reporters, when asked about Paul. ''He wants it that bad.

"You can see it in his demeanor, you can see it in his walk. It shouldn't surprise anybody. He's built for these moments.''

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Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum totaled 25 points in the loss. Center Jonas Valanciunas totaled 18 points and 25 rebounds for the Pelicans.

The Suns outscored the Pelicans 52-38 in the paint, 15-2 off fast breaks and led by as many as 23 points in the victory. Booker made a 3-pointer 14 seconds into the game and the Suns never lost that advantage.

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The Suns used a 10-2 run to spark their first-quarter surge. They took a 28-16 edge into the second. Booker totaled 10 points over the first 12 minutes.

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The onslaught continued in the second and the Suns owned a 53-34 lead at halftime. Booker poured in another 11 points in the third, but the Pelicans outscored the Suns 37-26 in the frame. The Suns took a 79-71 lead into the fourth.

The Pelicans cut the deficit to six points in the first three minutes of the final quarter, but would not get closer. Paul scored every Suns point in a 10-2 run to regain momentum. The Suns outscored the Pelicans 31-28 over the final 12 minutes.

Cameron Johnson and Mikal Bridges chipped in 13 and 11 points, respectively, in the win. Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr. totaled 18 and 14 points, respectively, for the Pelicans.

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The Suns host the Pelicans in Game 2 of the Western Conference series at 10 p.m. EDT Tuesday in Phoenix.

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