Big buddy Blake Griffin detected Paul’s magic night and refrained from his patented rolls to the hoop. Instead, Griffin went looking for screens to free CP3.
“When somebody’s got it going like that, you just want to try to stay out of the way as much as possible, as well as keep that fire going,” Griffin said. “The first quarter was crazy. We were just trying to spring him, get him open.”
The Thunder was hot early. Led 16-10 less than five minutes into the game. Paul had zero shots and zero assists. Then Rivers called timeout, and everything changed.
Paul hit J.J. Redick for an open 3-pointer. Then Paul drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game. A minute later, he hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give LA a 24-20 lead. Two more 3-pointers came in the final two minutes of the quarter. That’s five 3-pointers in the first period. The Clippers had a 39-25 lead, and this game effectively was over.
“We started the game off, they were hitting jump shots,” Kevin Durant said. “We didn’t come out nonchalant. They hit some shots, kind of loosened our defense up … we had good intentions. But they got hot.”
Paul is some kind of player. Heck, he was a great offensive player back in his Oklahoma City days, when he couldn’t shoot. Remember what we figured out a month into that maiden Hornet season in OKC. The kid rookie needs to shoot more.
Now that Paul is an old man (he turned 29 Tuesday), a perennial all-star, it’s still solid advice. The Clippers rode his shooting to an easy victory and now lead the series.
“He hit some tough shots,” said Westbrook. “We can live with that.”
Live with that. Or die by that. We shall see.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.