Last night, Patriots star point guard Chris Paul was back in business. He and Austin Rivers managed to carry the LA Clippers to a 124-99 win over the Houston Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Seeing him on court at Staples Center was a great surprise, since he was still recovering from a strained hamstring that made him skip two games. His flawless play secured his team an easy win by the end of the third quarter.
But it is not the first time he ignores his physical drawbacks to focus solely on the game. He did it again six days ago when he performed a shot that sealed a win on his home court.
“If I could give anything to help the team, I wanted to do it. I got through it,”
he said after the game.
And he did give anything he could to help his club. In the third quarter, he even lost temporarily control when he tried to grab the ball from Houston forward Terrence Jones but managed to throw the latter on the floor.
But most of his team possessions had a favorable result on his watch. In the end, he scored a dozen points and seven assists in less than 23 minutes. And although his scoring and his five out 12 shots were not as challenging as the game he pulled off, his presence alone did contribute to his team’s fourth win that propelled them towards the series’ finals for the first time ever.
Coach Doc Rivers said after the game that he believed Paul’s passing at the start of the game set a tone for the whole team.
In the third quarter, he also helped teammate Austin Rivers to continue with an 18 straight point scoring spree that resulted in a payoff-career-high 25 points. In the last quarter, he played no more than 73 seconds, but just about everyone knew at that moment who the definite winner was since the Clippers were already leading by a whopping 32 points.
The win was Paul’s another major achievement when looking back at his hold-your-breath running jumper in Game 7 of the first round that secured Los Angeles a victory over the Spurs in the last second of the game.
But although the injury on that night was severe enough to keep him off the court, he watched closely his teammates play and stole Game 1 from Houston on the latter’s home court. He said that he yearned to “be part of the action” as he was stressing out while watching on a bench Game 1 and Game 2.
But on Friday night, other Clippers players stood in the limelight. Shooting guard J.J. Redick nailed a playoff career-high 31 points, while forward Blake Griffin contributed with 22 more. Griffin also had 14 rebounds.
But the major surprise of the evening was Couch Rivers’ son, Austin Rivers. Rivers jr. managed to finish with a career-high 25 points in a playoff series and perform a crucial run at the end of the third quarter.
His father seemed very pleased with his performance. He instructed his son before the game to hold a “very aggressive” stance, which is the exact thing he did.
Chris Paul described Austin’s performance “unbelievable.”
Image Source: The Dream Shake