It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was quite ugly. But in the end, Chris Paul was the deciding factor in the Clippers’ starters’ overtime victory at the Galen Center Sunday afternoon.
At first glance, Paul had subpar outing — he had a measly 7 points on 3-for-6 shooting, to go along with 5 assists, 1 rebound and 1 steal. For a 21-minute game, in which he played about 15 minutes, that’s not too bad though. It’s about 17 points, 12 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals over 36 minutes (around the amount of time he’s likely to play).
His offensive creativity wasn’t the highlight of his in-game performance, though. That came at the defensive end, where Paul hounded Williams into 0 points on 0-for-4 shooting, was the team’s vocal leader and amped up the lifeless starters to get the W.
Taking a step back and reviewing the game for what it was, there’s not too much to take away. It was only Paul’s second practice and he’s got a lot to learn and adjust to before next Sunday’s Christmas game in Oakland. If there was anything to learn from the day’s practice, it was studying his tendencies.
He has the ability to control the ball like a puppeteer, using his fingertips to carve in and out of traffic, lob alley-oops, or step back for his signature jumpshot. He’s a master of pace, speeding up to blow by a defender, or slowing down to angle off his man and execute a picture-perfect pick-and-roll.
It was a thing of beauty to see Paul survey the court like a mathematician, calculating the perfect angle to find a cutting Butler for a lay-up, or the ideal trajectory to find Jordan sprinting for an alley-oop.
The pre-scrimmage playrunning (before the general public started to fill the stands) was where he shined. In a practice setting, he makes the most ridiculous plays you could imagine. Multiple alley-oops, no-look passes and step-back jumpers. I was left as speechless as Paul was when he first took the mic to address the crowd drowning him with “C-P-3″ chants.
So as you tune in tonight, watch the game, but study Paul in particular. You may just notice all the little things he does so well.