PAUL POSTS ONE OF MOST EFFICIENT SCORING GAMES IN RECENT NBA HISTORY

WASHINGTON – Chris Paul needed 14 shots to score 38 points.

“It was spectacular,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said of his superstar point guard’s performance Saturday against the Wizards. “It was a great efficient night. To score 38 points and miss three shots and he had 12 assists. I don’t know if it gets much better.”

It truly doesn’t.

Paul became the ninth player since 1985-86 to score as many as 38 points on 14 or fewer shots. Moreover, he was the first guard to do so since Magic Johnson in April 1990.

He finished with a dozen assists (two turnovers), three steals and three rebounds. Earlier Saturday he called the seventh and final game of the Clippers’ road trip a “must win.” And he certainly acted like it.

Paul pounced on Washington early, scoring or assisting on the Clippers’ first five baskets. He went at the younger and faster John Wall, scoring over him and around him. At one point, a flat-footed Paul buried a 31-foot 3-pointer from straightaway with Wall’s hand in his face.

It was heat-check moment for a guy who usually doles them out to his teammates. He helped Jared Dudley get going, doling out assists on four of Dudley’s seven field goals. And was the master of ceremonies in an arena of more than 16,000 patrons. More than 50 of those were Paul’s family members, who were located in two suites at Verizon Center on the two-year anniversary of his trade to the Clippers.

Told about what he accomplished after the game, Paul was unaware.

“I didn’t even look at the stats or anything like that,” he said.

Told that he had one of the more efficient games in recent NBA history, Paul responded, “That’s cool. It’s always fun to play well, especially in front of my family.”

From afar, Paul’s family has seen him post one of the best early-season starts by a point guard in memory. Paul opened with a double-double in an NBA record 13 straight games. He scored 42 points on Halloween against the Warriors. He leads the league in assists (11.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio. He leads all guards in double-doubles and holds the franchise record for assists through the first 25 games of a season.

It’s been Paul’s aggressiveness offensively, coupled the play of Blake Griffin and the emergence of center DeAndre Jordan, that have propelled the Clippers to a 16-9 start despite a bevy of injuries and the adaptations necessary in learning a new system on the fly.

On Saturday, the system looked pristine and Paul was the driving force, getting them from point A to B as efficiently as anyone has in 30 years.

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