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CLIPPERS FYI

Clippers' Chris Paul welcomes rising point guards' challenge

The Clippers' point guard, widely considered the best in the NBA, went against Stephen Curry on Wednesday and faces Damian Lillard on Thursday.

December 25, 2013|By Broderick Turner
  • Warriors point guard Stephen Curry tries to strip the ball from Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) during a drive in a game earlier this season.
Warriors point guard Stephen Curry tries to strip the ball from Clippers… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

OAKLAND -- Chris Paul is considered by most to be the best point guard in the NBA, but he knows that the league has plenty of good ones who all want to be the best.

Paul and the Clippers will face two of the better NBA point guards during their two-game trip.

He played against Golden State point guard Stephen Curry on Wednesday night and will face Portland point guard Damian Lillard on Thursday night.

For Paul, it's a challenge he looks forward to.

"You thrive for it," Paul said.

Paul is only 28 years old, but says he is now one of the "elder statesmen" at his position in the NBA. Paul is in his ninth year in the NBA.

Curry, 25, was averaging 23.9 points and 9.2 assists before Wednesday night's game. Lillard, 25, is averaging 21.5 points and 5.8 assists.

"You just got to be ready because you know they are coming for you," Paul said. "When I was younger, I used to watch film of J. (Jason) Kidd, Steve Nash and you look up to guys like that. But at the same time, there's a point where you have to realize you have to become your own person, where you could care less what they have done.

"Stephen has come to my camp, but he's his own man. Ain't none of that out there on the court being in awe. Everybody feels like they are the best, as they should."

Clippers to face tough Portland

After the Clippers played Portland twice during the exhibition season, Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said he told his coaching staff that the Trail Blazers would be "really good."

The Trail Blazers are good enough to be tied with the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder for the best record in the NBA at 23-5.

Rivers said one of the big keys that has helped the Trail Blazers was the acquisition of 7-foot center Robin Lopez over the summer.

"Them getting Lopez changed their team because it allowed LaMarcus Aldridge to be a 'four' [power forward], and a natural four that he's always been," Rivers said. "He's in his natural position and he's dominating."

Etc.

The Clippers have improved all phases of their defense over the last few weeks.

They have gotten better at defending three-point shots, limiting their opponents to 32% shooting.

"Sometimes it's not as simple as taking away the three," Rivers said. "You got to do the other stuff that allows you to take away the three. If guys are in the paint all night, you're going to give up a three because you're in help. If you keep yourself out of help, then you keep yourself on the three-point line. So it's all kind of connected."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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