AFTER MISTAKE-PRONE GAME 1, PAUL SAYS CLIPPERS WILL ‘BE BETTER’
LOS ANGELES – Chris Paul buried two 3-pointers in a matter of minutes as the Clippers, as they have most of the season, scratched their way back into Game 1.
It looked as though Paul, who finished with 28 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and four steals, was poised to do what he always does; what he did in Game 2 a season ago. It looked like Paul was putting the game away for the Clippers, rallying them to a victory that would preserve home court advantage.
And that’s when things changed.
Paul missed a contested layup on a 3-on-1 fast break. He said he should have passed it off to Darren Collison or J.J. Redick running with him. The play would have extended the Clippers rally to a 17-4 run and given them a three-point lead.
Instead they were up one and the Warriors answered on the other end.
“The fact that we had a 3-on-1 and didn’t score, you know, I didn’t the play,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “I don’t know what happened, but that’s another fast break where no one would have been back. That was the turning point, the 3-on-1 we didn’t score.”
Later, Paul turned the ball over after trying to turn the corner on Draymond Green with the Clippers trailing by two and 24 seconds remaining. He thought there was enough contact to draw a foul, but Green poked the ball out, bumping Paul in the process and deflecting it off Paul’s hand.
“It’s tough because they review and they can’t change it to a blocking foul,” Paul said. “It’s just whether or not the ball was out.”
And after Harrison Barnes gave the Clippers another gasp, missing the first of two free throws, ensuring it would only be a three-point game in the waning seconds, Paul was fouled by Klay Thompson to prevent a 3-point shot. Paul missed both free throws.
After the game Paul sounded frustrated with a performance by himself and the Clippers that he called uncharacteristic. There were turnovers (17), missed free throws (12) and, moreover, missed opportunities. But bouncing back is what the Clippers, and Paul, have done best.
“We’ve just got to play like us, like who we are,” Paul said. “We’ll come in tomorrow for practice. We did a lot of things wrong, myself especially. Defensively, we fell asleep and gave up a lot of easy baskets. If you watch the game, they got a lot of easy baskets and we sort of worked for everything we had to do. Go back to the drawing board and we’ll be better.”