Clippers not planning to stick with CP3 on Durant

By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com


VIDEO: The Inside crew discusses L.A.’s decision to use CP3 on Kevin Durant

LOS ANGELES – A man walks into a bar.

Wait.

Here’s a better one:

Chris Paul defends Kevin Durant.

That’s it. No punch line. No laugh track. Just a 6-foot, 185-pound point guard sent to check a 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward who, in his spare time when he’s not busy being bigger than Paul, is the reigning scoring champion. Even people Durant’s own size are handed a cigarette and blindfold when they are given the assignment, and Paul gets word Sunday afternoon in a playoff game with his Clippers already trailing the Thunder 2-1 and 3-1 coming fast.

And CP3 was still upright Sunday night. Not just that, Paul on Durant, with a lot of double-team rescue missions, was part of the small lineup in the fourth quarter that keyed the improbable L.A. turnaround from 22 points down in the first period and 16 down with a little more than nine minutes remaining to the 101-99 victory at Staples Center.

“That’s called desperate coaching,” said the most desperate of coaches at Staples Center, the Clippers’ Doc Rivers.

Durant scored 10 of his game-high 40 points in the fourth, but didn’t truly step on Paul. The MVP took only five shots, half as many as Russell Westbrook and only two more than Reggie Jackson. Durant committed three turnovers and didn’t help the Thunder beat the double teams, with no assists in the 12 minutes.

The Clippers staff talked Saturday about how Durant had been beating them with his dribble, either getting to the basket himself or forcing the defense to collapse and creating openings for Thunder shooters, and decided a guard on him in Game 4 could be a counter. Plus, the coaches had nothing to lose by that point. The Clips were getting pushed out of their own building, a 3-1 hole with the Western Conference semifinals about to head back to Oklahoma City would have been close to insurmountable, and so, sure, why not.

Rivers put Paul, one of the best backcourt defenders in the league, on Durant some late in Game 3, but nothing like this. This was sticking with it. This was sending at least one extra body at KD every post catch and forcing him to either score from there, an acceptable alternative considering he wouldn’t be at the rim or threatening to put L.A.’s season on the clock with 3-pointers.

Durant was asked about the challenge Paul presents and said, “He doesn’t. It’s not a one-on-one. When I catch the ball, they sent a double-team. They did a good job of crowding me, making me get rid of the ball. When it’s one-on-one, I got the advantage.”

For all the Oklahoma City delight over Durant’s growth as a distributor the last couple years, the Clippers will obviously consider it a success anytime he has to pass out of the double-team rather than get a shot. Five shots in the fourth quarter of a close playoff game is somewhere around the success of winning the lottery.

“I really can’t answer that,” Jackson, the Thunder’s backup point guard, said of Durant being muted down the stretch. “We’ve just got to find ways to get (Durant) open shots. We’ve got to punish them for doing that, for making a call such as putting Chris Paul on KD. We’ve got to punish them for it. Size difference. Everybody sees it. We’ve got to find ways to get him the ball easier and if they double just make them pay.”

Said OKC coach Scott Brooks: “That’s something we’ll look at in the film. Kevin was having trouble getting the catches…. But it was physical out there. I’ll just say that. It was physical. But we have to do a better job of getting him open, freeing him up.”

Plotting the counter comes with the Clippers saying — saying — they won’t go Paul on Durant much when the 2-2 series resumes Tuesday night in Oklahoma City. Rivers calls it a “situational” maneuver, not a regular strategy that will be deployed moving forward. The physical toll on CP3 is too much.

“It’s tough,” Paul said. “He was the MVP for a reason, you know what I mean. Early in the game, when things weren’t going right, I went to Doc and said, ‘Might be 48 minutes tonight.’ KD is a great scorer. I don’t know. It’s tough at times because you try and defend him as well as trying to stay aggressive offensively. Same thing I went through last series (against the Warriors). At the end of the day, you’ve just got to do whatever it takes to win.”

It turned out that Paul had a slow day in Game 4. Only 45 minutes.

There’s the punch line. Cue the laugh track.

19 Comments

  1. okc2014 says:

    Ibaka is definitely not a dirty player. I did see the punch to Flake Griffin’s genitals. But dont think that was the intent at all. It did look really nasty though. The Flippers are overrated.

    • CaliKidd says:

      The CLIPPERS definitely aren’t overrated. If anything, they are the most underrated and under appreciated team in the NBA Playoffs. Along with the Wizards. This series could’ve already been over with a 4-1 win Clippers over Thunder. The only problem is, and me saying this as a Clipper fan is, that Clippers don’t play as a team when it counts. After they win one good game in the series, the next game they try and outplay each other individually and forget about the GAME at hand. They did it in Game 2 and they did it all throughout round 1 with Golden State.

  2. TMac says:

    Seems like “kd’s abeast” can’t read….I said ALMOST every time they meet, bro….but more often than not Lebron James CAN shut down KD…it has been proven a few times.

  3. Jay says:

    CLIPPERS are becoming AMERICAS TEAM!

  4. Kd yu have to tell westbrook to slow it down so tht yu can go to work scoot brooks wants the ball in kd’s hands first

  5. Jerry Smith says:

    Jeff Van Gundy calling out the Clippers Jordan and Davis for flagrant fouls they did not commit is bias. Those fouls were ruled common fouls not flagrant. It is very obvious he is pulling for OKC. He in my opinion should not be broadcasting anymore TV games. It’s bad enough the refs are turning their heads away from any calls for the Clippers. Van Gundy must go !

    • okckd35 says:

      Really? Refs turning their heads? The clippers were hanging on durants arms the entire 4th quarter meanwhile getting a ft parade to get back in the game. Ridiculous. The refs are the ONLY reason LAC won game 4

      • Common Sense says:

        both of you are ridiculous. This is playoff basketball. They didn’t call GRiffin getting punched in the nuts, and elbowed in the face. They didn’t call the check fouls on KD. They didn’t call a lot of fouls on either team. And the ONLY reason that the Clippers won game 4 was because the Clippers had more points than the Thunder at the end of the game. Calm down everyone, it’s now a three game series. The REFS do the best they can, and so do the players, but in playoff basketball there are about 10,000 fouls and only 100 or so can be called or else the game would be 7 hours long. You both have no idea how hard it is to ref, period!

  6. Jerry Smith says:

    Ibaka should be suspended for the cheap shot he delivered to Blake Griffin’s genitals yesterday. He’s done it in the past and he continues to throw a punch to that man’s family jewels.

  7. squala96 says:

    The CP3-on-KD thing is a novelty that won’t last. Nobody can shut down Durant.

    • 4xPlusMvpsPlusRings+Final Mvps says:

      Where were you when Lebron shut him down in the NBA final two years ago?

    • TMac says:

      Lebron shuts down KD almost every time they face each other.

    • kd's abeast says:

      Lebron never shut down kd in the 2012 finals it was more like harden never showed up and they were a young team. And you must be really worried if ur bringing up lbj on a clipper-thunder article.

      • TMac says:

        Squala96 said nobody can shut down KD…that isn’t true. Lebron shuts down KD almost every time they go head to head. Lebron did in fact shut down KD in the 2012 finals enough to force them to depend on Hardon more.

      • TMac says:

        Harden*

      • kd's abeast says:

        I wonder if lebron shuts down kd everytime they meet according to tmac here then y was okc able to win a game against the heat this year when it was only kd versus james, wade, bosh, allen, battier, chalmers, etc.

    • Pakyaw says:

      *ahem ahem* LeBron James?

    • Common Sense says:

      CP3 didn’t shut down Durant, period. And if the Clippers shut down everyone else, they win, if they shut down Durant the rest of the team picks up, then you have to guard the rest of the team and then Durant kills you. So in a nutshell, nobody needs to shut down durant. For the record, last game was Durants best game this series with 40 and they lost