In his debut season with the Los Angeles Clippers last year, Chris Paul led the NBA in scoring in “clutch minutes,” which are categorized as the last five minutes of regulation or overtime with neither team leading by more than five points.
On Wednesday night against the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Paul perhaps had never been less clutch, shooting 2 for 14 from the field and missing a potential game-winning 14-footer at the end of regulation.
Paul finished with one of his worst statistical lines in his eight seasons as one of the league's premier point guards. Normally a double-double machine, Paul finished with a single-single of nine points and nine assists to go along with five rebounds, four steals and four turnovers.
Afterward, Paul put his team's 117-111 overtime loss to OKC squarely on his shoulders.
“I was just terrible tonight,” Paul said. “For us to lose in overtime and I play like that? There aren't going to be too many nights like that.”
Reminded of all the game he has won for the Clippers, Paul responded: “That's bogus. I can't do that (play poorly). I shouldn't do that. I took a few bad shots. It was the timing of everything. I missed at the wrong times. It was bad, a bad game on my part. To be that close ... we still should have won.”
The Clippers (8-3) outscored the Thunder 53-43 to force overtime, where OKC (9-3) pulled away for the victory at the free-throw line, converting 7 of 8 at the line in the extra five minutes compared to 1 for 1 for LA.
While Paul sputtered, plenty of teammates stepped up, primarily former Oklahoma standout Blake Griffin (23 points, six rebounds, three steals), sixth man Jamal Crawford (20 points) and forward Matt Barnes (19 points, nine rebounds, four steals), who replaced injured starter Caron Butler (shoulder strain).