The Phoenix Suns looked dead in the water after falling to 2-1, and their leader Chris Paul was struggling to cope with his shoulder injury. But last night, the Suns put out a valiant team effort and upset the Lakers in Hollywood, beating them 100-92, tying up the series at 2-2 as they head back to Phoenix.
It was a total team effort, holding the Lakers to only 92 points on the defensive end and having none of the players score 20 points or more on the other side of the floor. Every single starter scored in double digits, and the only bench player that came in and joined them was Cameron Payne. NBA fans weren’t too familiar with Payne’s name, outside the fact he was Russel Westbrook‘s dance partner when he came into the league with the Thunder.
Payne actually came into the NBA as a promising prospect in the 2015 Draft, being selected 14th in the first round out of Murray State. Unfortunately, his career didn’t start great as Payne was bouncing back and forth with the G-League team for his two seasons with the Thunder. To make matters worse, he was constantly dealing with injuries. Payne would eventually get traded to the Bulls in 2017, starting a few years of being a journeyman, playing for a couple of NBA teams, G-League teams, and even internationally in the CBA.
But his NBA comeback became a reality last season, as the Suns signed him before going into the bubble. Payne was a part of the Suns impressive 8-0 run in the bubble and earn himself a spot on the roster for the next season. He finally managed to play an entire, healthy season, playing 18 minutes per game and averaging 8.4 ppg, 3.6 apg, and 2.4 rpg.
Payne picked up his game in the Playoffs, getting even more playing time due to the Suns resting CP3 as much as possible. He has responded to the challenge, averaging 13.0 ppg, 4.5 apg, and 3.3 rpg. The shifty lefty shows no fear of the big moment, penetrating the Lakers’ defense with his quickness and providing a much-needed scoring punch from the bench. Every series has that one guy no one saw coming – for the Suns-Lakers series, Cam Payne is that guy. We will have a real battle in the next few games, especially with Anthony Davis possibly being out with a groin injury.
Cam Payne made his way into one of the best kinds of NBA stories – never give up!