CP3’S RECORD START TO SEASON CAPPED WITH BIG FOURTH QUARTER
MINNEAPOLIS – For a short period of time, when the Timberwolves were climbing back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit, it seemed Chris Paul may fall short of Magic Johnson’s NBA record.
Paul needed six points to notch at least 10 points and 10 assists in the first 12 games of the season, surpassing the mark set by the Hall of Fame point guard 22 years ago. There was 5:19 left in the game, and it seemed plausible that Paul could not there.
But there was something to be learned from Paul’s 3-for-10 start to Wednesday’s 102-98 victory in the Twin Cities. Never doubt Chris Paul.
Paul rolled off 16 of the last 21 points for the Clippers (8-4). He converted six of his last seven shots. He made the notion that he might only tie Johnson’s record seem as miniscule as his margin for error in the final minutes of Wednesday’s win.
“That’s who he is,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s one of the best players in the league. He’s capable of doing that. And it was good that he was doing that. He saw that we were struggling and missing shots and you’ve got to go for it.”
After Rivers called a timeout in attempt to halt an 8-0 run by the Wolves, Paul most certainly went for it. He made a 3-pointer after Ricky Rubio stumbled to the floor and responded on the next trip with a floater, drawing a foul. His subsequent free throw gave him the record.
“I had no clue,” Paul said when asked if he had an idea how close he was to the mark at various points throughout the game. “I was just trying to figure out why I couldn’t make a shot. People probably will say it’s not true, but I honestly have no idea what stats are or assists or things like that because I’m too focused on the game. I knew I wasn’t scoring. I knew that, but anything else I didn’t know.”
Jamal Crawford, who scored 16 points off the bench, and was on the floor at the time talked about Paul’s achievement after the game.
“Whenever you can set a record in the NBA, it’s pretty cool. It’s pretty special,” said Crawford, who holds the NBA record for 4-point plays and franchise record for 3-point makes in a season. “He may not say that, but as a fan of the game it is. I think the way he’s started the season has been incredible.”
Paul finished the night with 20 points and 11 assists. Through 12 games, he’s notched at least 13 assists five times and at least 20 points five times as well, including a meteoric 42-point, 15-assist game on Halloween against the Golden State Warriors.
He’s also chasing another Johnson record from 1990-91: 15 games with 10 or more assists to start a season. Paul said just to be mentioned in the company of Johnson, a five-time champion and first-ballot Hall of Famer, is an honor.
“It’s huge because Magic is a mentor of mine,” Paul said. “He’s someone that I look up to. His basketball credentials are unbelievable, so to be mentioned in anything with him is huge. It’s an honor, a privilege.”