Chris Paul is still the most well-rounded, technically sound and excellent point guard. He proved it again on Friday as the Clippers beat the Jazz 111-106 in Salt Lake City.
The Clippers lost Blake Griffin to a toe injury in the first half. But L.A. didn't need him in the fourth with the game on the line. CP3 came in with the Clippers down five with just under nine minutes remaining. With five minutes left, L.A. had pulled to within two.
CP3 scored the next nine points to give the Clippers a seven-point lead with two minutes to go. L.A. finished it off from there. (In full disclosure, there was a CP3 turnover and a missed dagger in those final two minutes, and the Jazz were a judgment call on continuation away from tying the game, but they got the win.)
Griffin exists in a weird place with the Clippers right now. It's not obvious that L.A. is better when it's CP3, DeAndre Jordan, and three shooters, but that seems to be the case. We're not yet sure whether Griffin will miss additional time with his toe injury, but it doesn't feel like doom in any case.
Shout out to Gordon Hayward for scoring 21 in the first quarter and 40 in the game. Unfortunately, he went cold late. It's fine: This is going to be a long series. There's time to make it up.
Playoff scores ...
Celtics 104, Bulls 87 (CHI leads 2-1)
Rockets 113, Thunder 115 (HOU leads 2-1)
Clippers 111, Jazz 106 (LAC leads 2-1)
... And links galore
The tables turned in Thunder-Rockets. Russell Westbrook got all the help in the world, but Houston went solo for the most part. OKC won to keep the series in play. Westbrook made a point to share the ball early as OKC darted into transition as often as possible. Taj Gibson in particular benefited from Westbrook's dishing. The Rockets, meanwhile, finished with all of 10 assists (six of those from James Harden, who had a strong game despite seven turnovers and 4-of-12 long-range shooting). Houston was only 10-of-35 from three, both a reason for the depressed assist numbers and perhaps cause as there was more one-on-one than usual.
How did the Celtics' self-rescue mission in Chicago go? It went how many of us thought the series would go! The Bulls struggled to score, the Celtics got shooting they needed and controlled the pace, and won running away. Of course, Rajon Rondo was out and Jimmy Butler had his worst game in months, so we'll see how the series turns from here.
We have a new meme! It's James Harden's press conference grimace face. It's like the face you make when you go to make coffee at 4 a.m., and then you realize you forgot to buy coffee.
The Dream Shake, who has been tracking MVP votes all month, has called the race for Russell Westbrook.
Raptors at Bucks, 3 p.m. ET, TNT (MIL leads 2-1)
Wizards at Hawks, 5:30 p.m. ET, TNT (WAS leads 2-0)
Spurs at Grizzlies, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN (SAS leads 2-1)
Warriors at Blazers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (GSW leads 2-0)
Man of the people Zito Madu argues that Paul George deserves better than the Pacers.
Cavaliers GM David Griffin talks to Fear The Sword about how he built Cleveland around LeBron.
Speaking of Griff, he doesn't have a contract for next season. Orlando is apparently interested in poaching him.
Festus Ezeli on the weight of getting a cadaver ligament donation.
Kevin McHale on James Harden's breakout season and more.
Kevin O'Connor on how box scores can't fully describe Giannis Antetokounmpo's impact.
The Sacramento Kings added well-respected front office exec Scott Perry, who recently became available in the Orlando purge.