Advertisement

Paul sinks the Clippers

He scores 30 points and has 14 assists in front of a sellout crowd,

April 02, 2009|Lisa Dillman

And now, a moment or two of appreciation for Chris Paul.

Better yet, how about three?

CP3.

After all, that is his number, not a character from one of those "Star Wars" movies. The man with two first names -- and the Clippers couldn't seem to guard either of them -- led New Orleans to a 104-98 victory Wednesday night at Staples Center in front of a sellout 19,060.

Paul pulled the injury-ravaged Hornets back from the brink after they squandered a double-digit lead in the second half. Of his 30 points, 12 came in the fourth quarter, including eight in the final 2 1/2 minutes.

There was more than scoring, though.

He put on a ball-handling clinic, displaying his usual wizardry. Paul had 14 assists, four rebounds and six steals.

Even Clippers' owner Donald Sterling was duly impressed. He said something to Paul after the game and Paul smiled. Sterling didn't say what he said to the point guard when he was questioned.

Paul did offer it up when he was asked in the locker room, quoting Sterling as saying, "You belong in Hollywood."

New Orleans was without three of its top six players and another, David West, was limping around on a bad foot and went down in the fourth quarter, practically right in front of Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy.

"Just can't afford to miss any game at this point in time," said West, who had 19 points. "Just got to play."

The Clippers had trailed by 11 points in the third quarter and went on a torrid shooting run in the fourth, making their first six shots and went on to take the lead with 5 minutes 40 seconds remaining with Eric Gordon's 19-footer putting them up, 89-88.

Gordon led the Clippers with 25 points and rejuvenated Baron Davis had 13 points and 12 assists, and Zach Randolph had 24 points.

But Paul took over down the stretch. It's not as though the Clippers haven't seen him do it here against them. On Nov. 24, he had his sixth career triple-double, scoring 14 points with 17 assists and 10 rebounds.

Dunleavy, who said Paul was a lot like John Stockton but stronger, was asked the other day whether Paul could even get better as a player.

"I don't know how much better he can get," Dunleavy said. "He's incredibly good. Great passer, great scorer, great toughness, great playmaker and defender. As far as all the categories go, you can check them off on everything.

"Only he could say what he could get better at. The thing that Chris Paul has going for him, a big part of it, is how strong he is. He's a really strong tough kid. He's got the ability to get people off him because of strength. He gets into these little niches. They can't move him. A lot of time, he's hitting them."

That turned out to be prophetic on Wednesday.

Etc.

The long season has been taking a toll on forward Al Thornton, who seems to have spending his time, of late, in ice. He had ice bags on both knees and one shoulder after the loss to Houston on Saturday.

But it was a bone bruise of his left foot keeping him out against the Hornets. The Clippers did not make the call to sit him out until shortly before game time.

The Clippers already were without Marcus Camby (sprained left ankle) and Mardy Collins, who said he was probably done for the season.

"It's pretty bad," Thornton said. "I came down off it in the Houston game, but I'm going to try to play Saturday [at Denver]."

--

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|