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Chris Paul bullied the Jazz in Game 3 to give the Clippers new life

Without Blake Griffin, Chris Paul played like the superstar point guard the Clippers needed to win Game 3.

NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Paul is the world’s smallest bully. The Jazz found that out the hard way on Friday night as the Clippers’ veteran point guard powered a second half comeback to give Los Angeles a 111-106 win in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead.

Paul has been in takeover mode late in games all series. That trend continued in Game 3. Paul scored 24 of his team-high 34 points in the second half to rally the Clippers back from a nine-point halftime deficit.

Paul wasn’t just scoring efficiently — he shot 12-of-22 from the field — he also added 10 assists and seven rebounds. He was in complete command late in the game, making plays for himself and others.

The Clippers needed it. Blake Griffin exited in the second quarter with a toe injury and didn’t return. His status for the rest of the series could be in jeopardy. If he’s out, the Clips are going to need Paul to be this good every night.

CP3 had to know it was his night when shots like this were falling:

Paul was especially devastating in the fourth quarter.

With the Clippers holding a one-point lead with under four minutes left, Paul split Utah’s trap for this layup:

This Clippers’ win required every bit of Paul’s brilliance. For most of this game, it looked like the story of the night would be a career-best performance from Gordon Hayward.

Utah’s 27-year-old star went for 40 points on 13-of-21 shooting from the floor. It was the highest scoring game of his pro career and the type of defining playoff performance all great players need. Unfortunately for Hayward, CP3 was every bit as good in crunch time.

The game got interesting late when George Hill hit a three off a beautiful inbounds play with five seconds left to trim the Clippers’ lead to just one. Paul would sink two free throws and Los Angeles survived in the end.

Paul has to know this could be it for the Clippers. He has an early termination option after this season, as does Griffin, and J.J. Redick is a free agent. If this is the end of the Clippers’ run, CP3 isn’t letting them go down without a fight.

He was amazing in Game 3, just as he has been all series. There’s nothing the Jazz can do about it.