Prior to the Clippers’ Jan. 9 matchup with the Dallas Mavericks, head coach Rick Carlisle, who won the 2011 NBA championship with the Mavericks, talked about Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, the Clippers’ championship potential and much more.

On Clippers point guard Chris Paul:

“He’s a great player. At his position, there’s nobody better right now. He’s great in all areas, not like some guys who are great at scoring or great at making assists. He scores, he sets guys up, he steals the ball, he leads, and he makes big plays at different times of the game.”

“I don’t think there’s anybody in this league that can guard him one-on-one. He’s just too quick and too good with the ball.”

On what veteran Grant Hill means to the league and a locker room:

“I like him because he’s one of the few guys that still call me by my first name because he feels like he’s close enough to my age. When you think about guys in this league that kind of stand for everything good about the NBA, I mean, Grant Hill is one of the all-time great, not only players, but great people. I’ve had a chance to be around him some over the years. I was at Phoenix’s training camp back in ’07 and spent some time with him and have known him for years and years. He just has a great love and enthusiasm for the game. He takes unbelievable care of himself and really just works at it, works at it, and works at it. And as he’s gotten older he’s worked harder. So he’s still got a lot to give to the game. You like to see guys like that get healthy.”

On the play of All-Star candidate Jamal Crawford:

“Talk about off the bench guys that can get it going quick, he’s right at the top of the list. There are two or three of them probably in the league. He’s really developed a niche in this league as a top-scorer off the bench. He knows how to get it going and if you’re playing against him, he’s one of those guys you’ve got to really game-plan for because he can hit you in a lot of different ways: pick-and-roll, he’s a great one-on-one player, he can get you off pindowns, and you’ve got to find him in transition. Everybody’s awareness has got to be really high when he’s on the floor.”

On Clippers having the best record in the league thus far:

“I’m not surprised. Vinny has done a great job with this team. They’ve developed a real identity. To be a championship team, you’ve got to be able to have a flow to your game offensively and be able to turn around and play a possession nasty style on defense. And they can do that. And they’re one of a small handful of teams in this league right now that can. They’ve raised the bar around here in terms of how they’ve played. They’re a legit championship caliber team. I don’t think Vinny gets enough credit for the position that they’re in right now.”

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