Blake Griffin made the finish even more impressive than most of the game has been with his dunking and a huge three pointer, but it was Chris Paul, all throughout this game and all throughout the season that kept the Los Angeles Clippers ahead of their city and division rivals, sweeping the series with the Lakers for the first time in history while earning their first ever Pacific division title.
Paul finished with 24 points and 12 assists, once again setting a pace that was too high for the Lakers, on a terrible shooting day from Kobe Bryant, leading to a 109-95 win for the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite making it to the conference semifinal last season, this win and with all of its meanings seemed to be much more important to anyone who’s been involved with this franchise from before the last three exciting years, beginning with the arrival of Blake Griffin and the trade for Paul.
Griffin made his mark on the game with one of the dunks of the season by switching mid-air from finger roll to slam dunk, putting the exclamation mark on the win. He finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists, making life very difficult for Pau Gasol, who looks older and older every time he has to face Griffin on the court in these LA Derbies.
For Paul, even without the non-existent defense of Steve Nash, there’s nothing better than playing the Lakers this season. In four games, he averaged 24 points and 13.3 assists, making another point to the claim that any chance the Clippers have from escaping the usual early-season-ending fate they usually go through depends on Paul’s ability to motivate them on defense with his steals and lock down ability, leading to their better performances.
Kobe Bryant, who finished with 25 points and 10 assists, had another night to forget with 6-19 from the field. He tried to be the point guard in the first half, finishing with 9 assists and went on to be the scorer in the second half with 21 points and only one dime. Both halves ended with the Lakers losing by 7 points.
It’s a new day in LA basketball history, but all that depends on if Chris Paul remains with the Clippers at the end of the season. A lot of that is riding on how they preform in the postseason, which is hard to predict not because of Paul, but because what the Clippers need to get from DeAndre Jordan, especially on the defensive front (struggled against Howard in the paint, who finished with 25 points) and obviously from their bench. Jamal Crawford scored 20 points, but if the Clippers are to make a mark in the postseason, it’s going to take big games from Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and Grant Hill as well.