Salt Lake City — The Los Angeles Clippers needed point guard Chris Paul to have one of the best performances of his postseason career if they were going to stay competitive on the road against a strong Utah team. They needed him even more when forward Blake Griffin left the game with a big toe injury in the second quarter.
The NBA vet didn’t disappoint as he outscored the Jazz 13-10 in the final 4:02 of Game 3 to record a 111-106 win.
Paul was on another level the whole night, finishing with 34 points on 12-for-22 shooting, to go with 10 assists and seen rebounds. 24 of his 34 points came in the second half.
“He has an amazing will,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “He really does. He’s just a tough, tough guy. He’s stubborn in a very, very positive way. All the great ones have that in ’em. They’re stubborn enough, like they aren’t going to lose. And that’s how he felt. And you can feel that. I think his energy kind of rubbed off on everybody on the team.”
Game 3 reminded everyone just how versatile of a player Paul can be. This situation called for a heavier scoring load and Paul took on the burden like it was nothing.
He’s without a doubt the best pick-and-roll player in the league, and Griffin going out just meant more P-n-R sets between Paul and DeAndre Jordan, Jazz coach Quinn Snyder noted after the game.
Looking ahead to Game 4 and 5, much of this series now depends on how healthy Gobert and Griffin are/can be. Griffin’s x-rays were negative, but the bruised big right toe could easily sideline him for at least a game.
“Well Blake, i think he’s doing a cat scan,” Rivers said. “We’re going to evaluate tonight. We should have more news tomorrow. So, we don’t know is the answer.”
Game 4 is Sunday.