Getting a crossover that breaks your ankle isn’t fun, but Chris Paul knows there’s more to the NBA than that, putting on the kind of performance the Los Angeles Clippers needed in order to come from behind in a tough arena against the Portland Trail Blazers to win 126-122.
With the win, the Clippers now actually have the edge over the Blazers with a 50-26 compared to Portland’s 48-26. The Blazers might have the number four overall seed because they’re division leaders, but the Clippers will be the team with home court advantage if things stay as they are.
Paul scored 41 points, possibly motivated by the entire NBA making fun of him, adding 17 assists and four steals while Damian Lillard, who is having quite a disappointing post All-Star period, couldn’t keep up with someone who isn’t being considered in the MVP debate, but just might be, still, the best point guard in the NBA, that includes Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook in the debate.
The Blazers led by as much as 19 points but simply fell apart in the second half, their defense not keeping up with the ball movement as Paul sliced and diced through it time after time, finding open shooters with ease. J.J. Redick carried on with his scorching shooting form to finish with 25 points including five 3-pointers; Blake Griffin scored 24, which included going 2-for-2 from beyond the arc.
Paul didn’t win any fans with another controversial moment, this time hitting Chris Kaman where the son doesn’t shine, resulting in Kaman giving Paul a shove that resulted in a flagrant foul. A small, short and uneventful melee followed, but nothing really happened and Kaman seemed quite chummy with Glen Davis afterwards, despite Davis going after the backup center for daring to hurt his cherished point guard. LaMarcus Aldridge got in Davis’ way and Davis responded with a nice little flop which didn’t work for him.
Aldridge scored 29 points to lead the Blazers, who once again couldn’t get anyone from the bench to really be a game changer for them. C.J. McCollum scored 13 points, but that wasn’t enough, and didn’t provide the energy they needed when things started falling apart. As we’ve written about a dozen times – it should have been Arron Afflalo, but with Wesley Matthews gone, Afflalo’s game changing abilities are “Wasted” with the starting lineup.
If the Clippers and the Blazers do end up playing each other in the playoffs, right now it seems like a no-brainer: Clippers all the way. They’re not the most trustworthy group of talents either, but if form is the determining factor between two similar teams, relying mostly on the scoring abilities of their point guards and power forwards, the Clippers have the current edge.