Suns guard Chris Paul wins shooting contest with broken right thumb

Chris Paul was due for re-evaluation in six to eight weeks because he fractured his right thumb on his shooting hand before the All-Star break.

Perhaps you would like to adjust this schedule.

Paul was getting right thumb shots in a short round after Friday’s shootout as the Suns (35-30) took on the Raptors at the Footprint Center.

“He beat us today with four fingers,” Suns backup point guard Cameron Payne said of Paul’s victory in a Friday morning shooting competition at the team’s practice facility.

“He kicked our ass. He beat us today. It was cool to see him there. I was actually surprised. I didn’t think he was going to shoot here, but it’s okay sign.”

Suns coach Monty Williams said Paul was getting “a little” shots last week.

“It’s great, but I wouldn’t be too excited about it,” Williams said ahead of Friday’s game. “It’s part of a normal progression for this type of injury. We’re happy about that, but we have to temper it until it can go 1v1, 3v3, 5v5.”

The official announcement of Paul’s schedule came just before the Feb. 20 All-Star Game in Cleveland. The injury did not require surgery.

Paul played two minutes into the game with his right hand wrapped. The day before, Paul talked about not rushing, but expressed his desire to return.

“I still want to play,” Paul said Feb. 19. “When I felt this in my hand, I was crazy for all sorts of reasons. Obviously we’re not going to (rush). I’m going to try to heal as fast as I can physically. As soon as I can play, I’ll guarantee you that I will play.

That being said, Williams believes Paul will respect the injury recovery process.

“He wouldn’t do anything to put himself in danger or jeopardize the season,” Williams said.

Based on the initial injury assessment, Paul was likely to return late in the regular season, before the playoffs or during the first round.

The Suns (53-13) end their regular season on April 10 against Sacramento. The playoffs are due to start on April 16.

With the league’s best record, Phoenix has already clinched a top-six berth in the playoffs. The Suns will therefore not have to participate in the qualifying tournament scheduled for April 12-15.

Paul was injured in the second half of a Feb. 16 win over Houston before the All-Star break.

Averaging 14.9 points and a game-high 10.7 assists in 58 games, Paul slammed a hand on the forearm of Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate following a pass.

The Suns are 5-3 without Paul since his injury, but they could find their leader sooner than expected based on his shooting on Friday.

“It’s a good sign,” Suns center JaVale McGee said.

Do you have an opinion on the current state of the Suns? Contact Suns Insider Duane Rankin at [email protected] or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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