The two NBA games on TNT Thursday night couldn't have been much more different. The first tilt between the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks was a defensive struggle, with both teams laboring to score and the fourth quarter devolving into countless possessions of Hero Ball before Derrick Rose saved the day at the end in an 82-81 Bulls victory.
Then there was the nightcap between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. Considering all of the talent on the floor and the so-so defense both teams tend to play, a shootout was to be expected. And a shootout, it was.
Chris Paul and Stephen Curry engaged in a thrilling point-guard duel, with Paul coming out ahead both on the stat sheet and on the scoreboard. Paul put forth one of the most impressive performances of his career, tallying 42 points, 15 assists and six steals while leading the Clippers to a 126-115 victory.
With those numbers, Paul became the first player since 1973-74 to put up 40-plus points, 15-plus assists and five-plus steals in a single game. The point guard shot 12-of-20 overall, went 16-of-17 from the free throw line and even threw down a rare dunk:
Meanwhile, a night after teammate Klay Thompson scored 38 points on the Los Angeles Lakers, Curry went for 38 points himself against the Clippers. The sharpshooter scored his 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting overall and a scorching 9-of-14 from long range.
Curry also added nine assists, and he nearly notched a triple-double...only the third stat was turnovers. Curry had 11 turnovers on the night, with several of them turning into spectacular Paul-to-Blake Griffin alley-oops on the other end:
Paul and Curry did some of their best work in the second half, with the two combining for 47 points. 32 of those points came in the fourth quarter alone as the two went back and forth.
Outside of Paul and Curry, there were several other big performances. Griffin's monster dunks were part of a 23-point, 10-rebound effort. DeAndre Jordan grabbed 17 rebounds (10 offensive), while J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford both poured in 17 points.
Team-wise, the Clippers attempted a whopping 50 free throws, had 27 assists, 15 steals and 16 offensive rebounds. The Warriors made 12-of-21 from three, had 26 assists and turned it over 25 times. And to top it all off, the two teams combined for 65 fouls. Pretty crazy stuff.
Now would anybody object to seeing these two teams play in a seven-game series?