The Phoenix Suns showed their resiliency after they still managed to take down LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, 114-104, despite Devin Booker’s ejection midway through the third quarter. Last season, losing their star shooting guard could have spelled doom for Phoenix and made them crumble. But Chris Paul’s arrival and presence on the team has definitely made the ship a lot steadier than in the past.

During the post-game interview, Suns center Deandre Ayton raved over Paul’s leadership and impact on their young squad and expressed his appreciation for the experience of learning under the tutelage of the 11-time All-Star.

Via NBA on TNT:

“CP is a guy who leads vocally. He’s always on us, showing us the little things on how to win, the small details that count, especially in today’s game. Losing D-Book, he sat us down in the huddle and had us make sure we make winning plays. There’s no mistakes. When the game is junky just like this. Us as young players, we just want to listen. It’s contagious the way how he approaches the game and it’s a blessing.”

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The referees threw out Booker after issuing successive technical fouls on the two-time All-Star, as NBA fans on Twitter expressed their disgust over the bogus call. Nonetheless, the ship didn’t sink under Paul’s watch as the Suns found a way to overcome Booker’s unwarranted exit.

The huge win over the defending champs propelled Phoenix into the no. 2 spot in the West standings. Per ESPN Stats & Info, this marks the first time in 12 years that the Suns held a top-2 record, not just in the West, but across the entire league at this point of the season.

It might be unfair to say that Phoenix’s success this season because of Chris Paul since it might take some credit away from guys like Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, who are both having great seasons. But it’s hard to argue with the results of how CP3 has turned them into a dark horse contender this season. So, yes. Phoenix’s success is definitely because of Chris Paul.