Clippers vs. Grizzlies: Chris Paul has off night, but don't count on it

Andy Lyons

Chris Paul had more turnovers than assists Thursday night, a feat he only, um, accomplished twice during the regular season. If Paul and the two head coaches in the Grizzlies-Clippers series are to be believed, it won't be a trend.

Chris Paul is a human, apparently, just like you and me.

Thursday night, Paul had eight points on ten shots. He had five turnovers and four assists. In his 70 appearances this season, he had more turnovers than assists only twice.

Everybody - EVERYBODY - do not overreact. Sure, Paul looked out of sorts. And yes, a large part of it had to do with a Memphis defense, the second-best in the league this season, that was intent on squeezing up on Paul, hitting him as soon as he came off screens, and ensuring even a smoothly elusive player like Paul wasn't able to find an inch of breathing room or space to penetrate.

But guys, listen. This is Chris Paul. Remember Monday night? When he scored the Clips' final eight points, including the game-winner? Remember how he had 16 combined assists in the first two games of the series, with only two turnovers? Remember his 4.21 assist-to-turnover ratio, second in the league among qualified players? And oh yeah, remember the fact that of the 70 games this year, he only had two games where he turned the ball over more than he assisted?

This shouldn't happen often. When asked in a postgame presser, Lionel Hollins admitted there wasn't some ridiculous scheme in place that has solved the Chris Paul conundrum - basically chalking it up to a few bounces that didn't go his way:

We didn't make any adjustments. we just played what we do better. Chris Paul's a great player, and no matter what you do he's going to find a way to get where he wants to go. He didn't make as many shots as he made in the past, and we got some turnovers on him, Tony got on the floor and flipped the ball away, those effort plays.

In his presser, Vinny Del Negro echoed that, pinning Paul's poor game not on Paul, but on the team's inability to give him assist opportunities in the open floor due to a dominant Grizzlies performance on the glass:

I just think the rebounding and the pace of the game, we didn't get out in the open court and get them open. Chris just had one of those games. He'll bounce back the way he's capable of.

And Paul himself? Here's what he had to say:

It was uncharacteristic of us. I had five turnovers tonight, and our turnovers led to 17 of their points. we just gotta be better.

So: Lionel Hollins says the strategy that caused Paul to have a bad game was the same that allowed him to dominate in the previous game, just better executed, Vinny Del Negro says Paul will bounce back, and Paul himself says it was uncharacteristic.

Chris Paul is human. But he's a pretty damn good human at playing basketball, and one bad night is definitely not worth crafting a narrative around.

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