Suns vs Pelicans: Chris Paul kicks Jose Alvarado in groin in Game 5
April 28, 2022
The Phoenix Suns delivered a heavy blow to their visiting game series opponent the New Orleans Pelicans by claiming victory in Game 5 which propelled Phoenix to a 3-2 series lead. However, that was not the only blow the team delivered on Tuesday night.
Coming in second scoring position behind forward Mikal Bridges, Phoenix guard Chris Paul led the franchise to claim its third victory. Both were high-achieving players for the Suns, but the latter delivered a low blow to the groin of the opposing team’s roster. It was certainly not, in any way, a spirit of sportsmanship.
Paul kicked New Orleans guard Jose Alvarado in the groin at 4:36 before halftime with a jumper near the free-throw line. However, the question of whether it was an accident or intentional remains.
Competitive game series
Both franchises showed competitive displays in their game series all the way to Game 5. The atmosphere of competitiveness extended to Paul and Alvarado specifically.
The Athletic's senior NBA Columnist John Hollinger called the incident on Tuesday night a “pretty clear nutkick by CP3 on Alvarado here".
Up to this point, there have not been game calls on Paul’s play by the officials, which has led many NBA critics on social media, including Hollinger, to speculate that Paul made the move intentionally.
During the game, the 12-time NBA All-Star made a jumper close to the Pelicans’ free-throw line. He was quite open as other New Orleans players were guarding other Phoenix advancing rosters, who were at the ready to make a follow-up in case Paul’s throw fail.
Alvarado was the one who had his eye on Paul. As soon as CP3 made his jumper, his leg appeared to make a contact with the 24-year-old Alvarado. The aftermath of the incident had the Pelicans guard frozen for a couple of seconds before taking it all in.
The Suns were down to 16 points behind the Pelicans, and the 2021 Second-team All-ACC tried to pull his signature steal on Paul from behind. Alvarado seemed to have agitated the 4× All-NBA First Team throughout the game series.
“I got him. I got him,” Alvarado said. “That’s one thing I wanted to do actually, I got him on my list.”
This was indeed a competitive game series. Ahead of the Tuesday night’s game on Sunday, both Paul and Alvarado had a stand down in the late fourth quarter.
Paul as Phoenix's key to good defense
Other than Alvarado, Paul also appeared to have been involved in intense competitive stare-downs with New Orleans star forward Brandon Ingram and rookie guard Herb Jones in Game 4, making the standoff three against one.
The reason why Paul is the favorite name listed on the Pelicans’ target list is the fact that Phoenix’s defense is fully dependent on the Winston-Salem native.
Prior to Paul, the franchise had to heavily rely on forward Devin Booker. However, the Suns had to shift its defense strategy since Booker sustained a Grade 1 right hamstring strain which he received in Game 2.
The three-time NBA All-Star, according to Phoenix, is expected to be on the sideline for a few weeks. In a worst-case scenario, however, the Suns potentially will have to full throttle the entire series without their star defense.