SAN ANTONIO – Another night, another beat-down for Chris Paul.
If the Lob City Clippers are going to get up off the floor to be even mildly competitive against the Spurs, first someone is going to have to sweep up the shattered pieces of their All-Star point guard.
In Game 2, Paul scored just 10 points and handed out only five assists. But more significant was his eight turnovers, the most in a game in his career.
“Just bad decisions,” Paul said. “I have to make better passes. They are shrinking the court and basically just packing it in.”
His good friend Tony Parker handled the lion’s share of the defensive matchup in Game 2, but Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and others also got into Paul’s face.
There is not a playoff team still alive – and maybe not one that entered the postseason – dependent on one player to make it go than the Clippers and Paul.
He has to run the offense, get everyone else involved, fuel the rocket that is Blake Griffin, inject the energy into the lineup and also score big and score late. In the four games that L.A. won in its first-round victory over Memphis, Paul did not score fewer than 19 points. In two games against the Spurs, he has a total of 16 points, has shot 7-for-22 and turned the ball over 13 times. He is also playing with a groin strain and a hip flexor injury.
“He’s been a dominating player all season for us, especially in the fourth quarter making huge plays,” said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. “I know he’s not feeling great, but he’s battling through it.”
Down 0-2, the battle only gets tougher and nobody left in the playoffs has more of a burden than Paul.