Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chris Paul Rules The World

CP Rule
Down 6 with 5 minutes left in tonight's Grizz-Clips Game 2, Chris Paul went up for a steal attempt on a half court pass with Zach Randolph. In what could be charitably described as a 40-60 ball in the Euro football parlance, Z-Bo picked up Foul #5 and sat down, barely missing a technical in the process. There was still a ton of game left, and Griz point guard Mike Conley might have been playing the game of his life... but I still started writing my game story of how Paul willed the Clips to victory.

That's how good CP3 is. You can see the train coming from five minutes away and get on board; he inspires Faith. Deservedly so.

This is, of course, an oversimplification. Memphis went on a run after this play, with Conley leading the way, undressing Paul in the half court. The game showed how challenged LA is in a close game, since they have to run Lamar Odom out there at the 5 due to DeAndre Jordan's free throw shooting problems, and Odom really isn't something you want on the court in a close game anymore, either. But even when the game got to tied late, I never lost my faith that the Clips were going to pull this out, because, well, they had Paul and the Griz did not.

Paul made a crazy stop and pop with 80 seconds left to give the Clips the lead back, then got a board of the loose ball after a Marc Gasol miss with 55 seconds left. He then ran 15 seconds of the clock and got a foul, then someone recovered a turnover with a jump ball off Tony Allen as Grizz Fan (they do exist) wonder if Paul ever doesn't get a call late. On the jump, with the Clip crowd chanting CP3, he won the tap to Blake Griffin, then just barely missed iron from 45 feet to avoid the shot clock violation. And after Conley fed Gasol off a pick and roll for a dunk, everyone knew who was going to get the ball for the final Clipper shot in regulation with 13.9 left. After Crawford and Billings got the ball in and managed to get the ball to CP3 with five seconds left out high, he took the best defense that Allen could play, got penetration anyway, and hit the impossible bank shot over Allen and Darrell Arthur as time expired to end it. (There was pointless Grizz heave with 0.1 seconds left on the clock, because the refs have no sense of how these things should end, but so be it.) Paul had the last 8 Clipper points, and I never doubted that I was going to lose my lede. I wasn't even all that surprised when he closed the deal.




It was one of the better pro games you could hope for, with two teams that don't like each other, a great crowd that was in it for every minute, and coaches that aren't good enough to keep the stars from deciding it. A side note: it's embarrassing, really, just how much better the Clip crowd is over the Laker crowd. They chant, they are raucous, they never seem spoiled or bored or more involved with tacos. It's a world of difference. And while it can be argued that the Clips just held serve, the Clips have Paul, and that's just more important, really.

For the record, Conley had 28-3-9 with 2 steals and 3 turns while shooting 50% from the floor. Paul was 24-4-9 with a steal and turn. Any game you fight Paul to a draw on the road, you should win... but, well, LA got dunks in this game, and that's very much a Paul thing, too. There is no point guard I'd rather watch, and it's really not a stretch to say he's the Clips' best post presence, too.

What a weapon, what a player, what a game.

Now, if we could only get this to not end past 1:30am EST...

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