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Chris Paul puts all the blame on his shoulders for Clippers losing Game 5

CP3 said 359 words in his post-game press conference. Seven of them were “bad.” And he was talking about himself.
by Berry Tramel Modified: May 14, 2014 at 9:01 pm •  Published: May 14, 2014

It’s bad, Chris Paul kept saying. It’s bad.

Bad. Bad. Bad.

CP3 said 359 words in his post-game press conference. Seven of them were “bad.” And he was talking about himself.

The little guy with the big shoulders, Oklahoma City’s first NBA hero and now its mortal enemy, sat despondent in the bowels of Chesapeake Arena on Tuesday night, taking responsibility for his Clippers’ devastating defeat.

You don’t have to be tall to walk tall. And CP3, the maestro who has made the Clippers NBA relevant, was valiant in taking blame. The Clippers blew a 13-point lead in the final four minutes. A seven-point lead in the final 45 seconds. They lost 105-104 to the Thunder and now trail three games to two in a best-of-7 Western Conference semifinal that is becoming gladiatorial in blood and drama.

And Paul pled guilty to the crime. The NBA’s best point guard, a conductor who’s always striking the right notes, in the final 20 seconds committed two turnovers and an even bigger blunder, fouling Russell Westbrook on a 3-point shot with the Thunder down two.

“Everything happened there on the end is on me,” Paul said. “Probably the toughest thing I’ve been through basketball-wise.”

The weight of expectations rides heavy on Paul. Gone is the carefree 20-year-old kid who charmed us in OKC his NBA rookie year and ours, 2005-06, when the Hornets found a haven from Hurricane Katrina. Now Paul is a 29-year-old man, president of the NBA Players Association and a veteran of nine NBA seasons and winner of but two playoff series in his entire career.

We talk a lot about the clock ticking on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But CP3’s biological clock is on overdrive. Paul has been a fierce competitor. A little big man. An Allen Iverson heart, only with a better head. Whether charging into the lane to score over giants or physically man up with much bigger foes, Paul long ago proved his superstar mettle. His Game 4 defense on the foot-taller Durant was the stuff of legend. But now Paul has followed that with a game that will live in infamy should the Thunder win the series.

Paul recited his misdeeds. Allowing Westbrook to knock the ball free when Paul thought his adversary was going to foul. Then fouling Westbrook. Finally, a turnover just before the buzzer, when the Clippers had a chance to win.

“Assuming they’re going to foul is the dumbest play probably I’d ever made, then to put it in the official’s hands to call a foul on the 3, it’s just bad basketball,” Paul said. “We lost. It’s on me. We have a chance to win, last play I don’t even get a shot up and that’s just dumb. Supposed to be the leader of the team, that can’t happen.”

Of course, Paul is the reason the Clippers are even in the Western Conference semifinals. The reason the Clippers have carved out a niche in LA, which always has been LakerLand. The reason the Clippers have any NBA relevancy at all.

Heck, Paul is the reason America knows the Clippers have a kook for an owner. Donald Sterling is doing nothing he hasn’t always done. It’s just that now he owns a team quarterbacked by Chris Paul, so it’s a franchise that matters and people pay attention.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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