When 38 points on 14-23 shooting and 9 assists isn’t the best stat line of the night, you know something special happened.
It was clear that the Los Angeles Clippers team that showed up tonight on opening night wasn’t the one playing tonight. There was effort, energy and most importantly Chris Paul.
The Point God put on a performance to remember as he finished the night with 42 points, 15 assists and 6 steals, something that hasn’t been done since the league began to record steals in 1972. And despite having one of the best games you’ll see from a point guard, what was the first thing Paul pointed out about his night in the post-game conference? Turnovers.
“Man I just sat down here and seen the stat sheet for the first time and I had six turnovers. That’s ridiculous. That means six times I didn’t give us the opportunity to score. At the end of the day, as a point guard you evaluate yourself on wins and losses, but I’m big on turnovers.”
Whenever the Warriors (or Curry) got on a run to get the game closer, Paul put the foot on the Warriors throat to let them know there was no comeback in store. Paul got it done from all areas of the game. He hit two threes, went 16-17 from the free-throw line and 10-14 from mid-range/the paint.
CP3 wasn’t the only player with huge outing for the Clippers. The bigs in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan combined for 32 points as 27 rebounds while the primary wing rotation (Crawford, Dudley, Redick) scored 44 total pointson 34 shots. You couldn’t have asked for a better performance from Paul’s supporting cast.
A key moment in the fourth quarter and something that was absent all last season was the re-insertion of DeAndre Jordan into the game after missing two free-throws when intentionally fouled.
“It was definitely frustrating missing some, but my teammates gave me confidence to go out there and keep shooting them the way I was shooting them,” said Jordan with a smirk on his face. Situations such as these were the main reason why former Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro played DeAndre sparingly in fourth quarters all last season. “Ultimately my goal is to go up there and at least make one out of two, but if I can make something and help us get a stop that’s more important.
His presence defending the paint and keeping Andrew Bogut at bay was huge for the Clippers. These are the little things that players benefit from in the long run. Rivers’ confidence in Jordan going forth can change the way he approaches the fourth quarter of NBA games.
The second half of the game is where all the Clippers highlights came from, such as the three consecutive alley-oops from Chris Paul to Blake Griffin, but the tempo was set in the first where the outscored the Warriors 68-55. It gave Los Angeles room as the Warriors broke off for a 60 point second half, though it just wasn’t enough.
Some questions still remain the same despite bouncing back after that embarrassing “away” loss to the Lakers. The defense has yet to be seen as pundits expected it to be. They’ve allowed a combined 231 over the course of two games. Pace has a lot to do with the high-scoring affairs that have taken place, but this may become a recurring theme due to the lack of big man help which is another question that hangs high on the Clippers. Tonight Griffin and Jordan played 34 and 41 minutes tonight. The reserve bigs (Hollins/Mullens) played a combined 12 minutes.
On the other end Stephen Curry put on an absolute show as he faced off against the best point guard in the NBA. His 38 points will be the number everyone sees, but him shooting 9-14 from the three-point line is what will stand out from this game. At no point did it ever feel like Curry was forcing the three. The other four Warriors starters combined for 63 points while the bench scored 14 total points. Without the added help of Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli whom are out due to injuries, the Warriors had to lean on their starters too much on the second night of a back to back.
The Clippers will now head to Sacramento tomorrow to take on a Kings team that opened their season with a 2-point win over the Denver Nuggets as they were lead by max contract player Demarcus Cousin as he put up 30 points and 14 rebounds in 40 minutes of play. While the second night of back to backs are usually hard, the Clippers will have some white-board material as Cousins and Carl Landry tweeted about Chris Paul’s flopping (both players deleted the tweets, but retweets show they actually happened):
RT “@boogiecousins: Flop flop flop ….and flop” <— Boogie loves the acting in Los Angeles
— Sactown Royalty (@sactownroyalty) November 1, 2013
— The Oracle (@Trisity_) November 1, 2013
Quote of the Night:
Doc Rivers on the Clippers-Warriors rivalry: ” I don’t know if even one of us have the history of being that good yet to have a genuine dislike and I don’t know the history. We haven’t played in the playoffs. If we play in the playoffs and then that following year, that will be a dislike. Right now it’s just, we’re uncomfortable with each other. But it’s not a dislike yet.”
Tweets of the Night:
Chris Paul is the 3rd different player to have a 40-point, 15 assist game in the last 20 seasons, joining LeBron James and Allen Iverson.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 1, 2013
Chris Paul the first player since Kevin Johnson on 4/3/94 to have 42+ Pts and 15+ Ast. Oh yeah, he’s also got 6 steals.
— NBA Guru (@NBAGuru) November 1, 2013
Chris Paul with another record night http://t.co/OGUjLfYXmv
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) November 1, 2013
Highlight of the Night:
Lobs on Lobs on Lobs!