LOS ANGELES – Chris Paul’s scored 20 points before. He’s dished out 20 assists before. Never before, however, has anyone accomplished what Paul did against his former team Saturday night.
Paul became the first player since individual turnovers were recorded to post at least 20 points and 20 assists in a game without committing a turnover in the Clippers’ 133-105 win against the Pelicans.
“He’s a legend,” said DeAndre Jordan, one of the main recipients of Paul’s passes, which resulted in a bevy of dunks on his way to 19 points. “To have no turnovers in a game like that, where we’re kind of all over the place, the ball was hopping all over the place and we’re sharing the ball…that’s pretty huge.”
Head coach Doc Rivers said Saturday’s performance was a carryover from a sharp Friday practice where the ball popped around everywhere.
He noted how smooth the movement, spacing and attacking were throughout the whole team, but he didn’t realize until after Paul’s performance the historical significance.
“Visually, it looked beautiful,” Rivers said. “I can tell you that.”
Jordan, J.J Redick and Marreese Speights all finished buckets off Paul assists in the first quarter, at which point Paul had tallied five of his 20 assists. In the second quarter, Jordan kept taking advantage with dunks off Paul dishes, providing immediate boosts of energy in what was at the time a close game.
“Assists, I have the easy part of passing the ball,” Paul said. “Guys have to make the shots.”
They kept doing that, particularly during Paul’s third-quarter takeover, which turned a tight game into a Clippers rout.
Paul dished out 10 of the Clippers’ 11 assists in the third quarter, scoring or assisting all but one of the Clippers’ made baskets during a 37-point quarter, which ended on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Speights off a dish from Paul.
“The performance he had tonight was amazing,” Speights said. “I’ve never been a part of nothing like that, having 20 assists and 20 points. He knew, coming off the pick-and-roll, they’re going to have two guys on him…and I’d be wide open. So, he was telling me to shoot the ball, don’t hesitate.”
“Mo Buckets” didn’t need to be told twice.
Six of Speights’ seven made shots came off assists from Paul, including the 19th and 20th assists of Paul’s night to give him the 20-20 game. By the end of the third quarter, Paul already had 20 points and 18 assists heading to the fourth.
Paul, always the perfectionist, of course still found a way to critique himself afterward.
“Enough turnovers in the past three or four games,” Paul said, when first told about the historical significance of his performance.
Nothing irks Paul like turnovers, so recent performances bothered him as uncharacteristic turnovers piled up.
“That’s the first thing I look at every game, how many turnovers I have,” Paul said. “As a point guard, I’m like the quarterback, so turnovers are like interceptions. When you have as much offensive power as we have, any time I get a turnover, that takes away that opportunity.”
On Saturday, there was no interception. There was no lost opportunity. And there’s no one who did what Paul accomplished against his former team.