Paul Sets Personal Record With 16 Assists In All-Star Game


TORONTO – Chris Paul thought Magic Johnson’s record of 22 assists in an All-Star Game was still in reach after tallying nine first-half assists in just nine minutes.

Paul finished the night with a game-high and All-Star personal record of 16 assists in 19 minutes of action, to go along with 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting, passing Isiah Thomas for second all-time in career All-Star Game assists in the process in the West’s 196-173 victory.

In the days leading up to the game, Paul found out what the all-time single-game record for assists was in an All-Star Game. While he didn’t reach it Sunday, he still hopes to one day, and he came closer than anyone else on the court despite playing fewer minutes than each of the West’s five starters.

“No question, I know it’s in reach,” Paul said. “I plan on getting it at some point. But when you don’t start, you don’t get as many minutes.”

The Clippers’ point guard already entered the night with the highest assist average in All-Star Game history (12.9), and he increased it to 13.3 after the 16-assist night.

He was also third all-time with 90 career All-Star Game assists, trailing only Johnson (127) and Thomas (97) on the all-time list. Paul’s now only 21 assists from tying Magic for the most career All-Star Game assists after being named an All-Star for the ninth straight season.

“These games, me and Russ (Westbrook) kept talking about it, we usually get a chance to play together and we didn’t play together tonight,” Paul said. "But when you play with athletic guys like (Westbrook and Anthony Davis), it’s always fun.”

By halftime, Paul had already passed Thomas for second place in All-Star Game history in assists. Paul led all players in assists from the end of the first quarter through the rest of the game, despite coming off the bench. He had five assists in just five minutes of action without taking a shot in the first quarter, but he got hot from deep, finishing 4-for-6 from 3-point range.

Still, Paul preferred lobs for thunderous finishes rather than less exciting layups, and many times Davis was the one throwing them down. Davis was well aware Paul was going for the record, and Paul told him to run the floor with him when Davis got the chance.

“I told him I’d help him out,” Davis said. “I said, ‘Just throw it up there, I’ll try to go get it.’”

Paul’s previous high in assists in an All-Star Game was 15, which he did both last year and the year he won MVP in 2013, when he also had 20 points.

Magic set the mark of 22 assists in an All-Star Game back in 1984, and Magic’s also second on the list for most in a single game with 19 in 1988. John Stockton’s third with 17, which he set in 1989. Magic also dished out 16 assists in 1983, and Paul tied that mark for the fourth most from any player ever in an All-Star Game.

After racking up nine first-half assists, Paul entered with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter and quickly picked up his 10th assist of the night with a dish to James Harden. By the end of the third quarter, Paul already posted 13 assists in 15 minutes, along with eight points and three rebounds. At that point, no other player had more than seven assists.

NOTES:

· Paul’s son had some fun with Kobe Bryant at halftime, stealing the ball. Paul said he talked with Bryant on Saturday night about how when a player gets older in the league, he starts to realize moments more. “(Little Chris) probably doesn’t realize it now, because he’s kind of sort of used to seeing Kobe and stuff like that,” Paul said, “but when he gets a little older, it’ll probably hit him a little bit.

· Paul said it was a special night watching Bryant's All-Star send off. “Kobe’s one of the few guys that will ever get something like that, and he’s one of the guys that absolutely deserves it, so it’s cool,” Paul said. “Me and Kobe talked about it, I don’t think we’ve ever lost an All-Star Game where we’ve both sort of played together, and we kept it going.”

· Paul was also in attendance for the dunk contest, which he said was probably the best he’s ever seen. He said he hopes Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon will return next year, and it was good to see the excitement back in the competition.

· The West won the All-Star Game for the fifth time in the last six years. The teams combined for a record 369 points Sunday.

· Russell Westbrook was named MVP for the second year in a row after scoring 31 points with eight rebounds, five assists and five steals. He’s the first player to win the MVP outright in back-to-back years.

· Paul George scored 41 points, one shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star Game record set in 1962.

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