First Team: CP3, Doc make strides in L.A.

In this five-part series, I’ll take a look at the best games from last season’s All-NBA first team. The metric I’ve used to figure out the best games is more art than formula, using “production under pressure” as the heuristic for selection. For example, volume scoring in a close game against a stout team on the road gets more weight than volume scoring against the Bucks at home in a blowout. Big games matter. Big clutch games matter more.

Chris Paul turned in a third straight All-NBA first team bid with the Clippers.

Chris Paul turned in a third straight All-NBA first team bid with the Clippers.

Chris Paul always has the ball on a string. He can dish with either hand, making any bounce pass through tight holes — and lobs to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan — possible from any angle. His pull-up jumper is lethal, and you have to get a hand up on him when he’s 23 feet out.

On the other side, he hounds. He flops. He annoys. He barks. His hands are active. In Game 4 of the 2014 Western Conference semis, he alternated between guarding Russell Westbrook (First Team-worthy) and Kevin Durant (a fellow First Teamer) as his team completed a rally back from 22.

But then came the yang of the last 49 seconds of Game 5. A turnover, a foul on a four-point play and another turnover from Paul gave the Thunder the game. They would close out the series in Game 6. It was the type of loss that encapsulates Paul: The smart, methodical, ball-on-a-string point guard can be too smart, too methodical and too ball dominant at the worst moments.

He is still a cut above the rest, continuing to redefine the Clippers’ brand to newbies who have no clue about their inept past. At 29, he is an historically great hardwood bandit (2.41 spg ranks fourth all time) and passer (9.91 apg also third all-time). There are deeper playoff successes and a MVP award to be had, but with a capable motivator in coach Doc Rivers in his ear, his point guard supremacy threatens to remain for the foreseeable future.

Here are his top games last season:

October 31, 2013 – Dawn Of A Season-Long Rivalry

The Line: 42 points, 15 assists, 6 steals, 6 turnovers

The Quote:Man, I had six turnovers. That’s ridiculous. That means there was six times I didn’t give us an opportunity to score. I’m big on turnovers. I hate turnovers.” — Paul


VIDEO: Chris Paul carves up the Warriors in a Halloween matchup

Tiny Archibald should have been proud. Two nights after being handled by the Lakers in the season opener, Cliff Paul’s brother dealt out the complete package. He was sinking free-throw line jumpers, baseline turnaround jumpers. He had his way with a pre-Team USA Klay Thompson, including a bullying score on a post-up. He even got in a sneaky dunk in Jermaine O’Neal’s mug.

Then there were those three consecutive alley oops with Blake, as well as the verbal jabs and scowls at the Warriors bench. This was CP3’s point god night, only if god coughed up the pill six times.

December 14, 2013 — Breaking Down The Wall

The Line: 38 points, 12 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 really long-range bomb

The Quote:This was the first game where we truly had no chance to win.” — Wizards center Marcin Gortat


VIDEO: Chris Paul gets better of John Wall, Wizards in victory

Prior to tip-off, Paul called this a ‘must-win’ game. The Clippers were on the final game of a seven-game road tilt, looking for their fourth win. Besides that, young whippersnapper John Wall was on the other side. If he was going to win this “Game 7,” he was going to have to earn it.

Which he did, early and throughout. The Wizards never had an answer for Paul’s chemistry with DeAndre or Jared Dudley this night, trailing by as much as 22 in the second half. Paul never let off the pedal, driving any hope out of the building with a 14-point barrage during a pivotal fourth-quarter stretch. His last shot of the game came from the half-court logo.

December 26, 2013 — Futility In Excellency

The Line: 34 points, 16 assists, 6 steals, 1 turnover

The Quote:We lost. We’re grown. We’ve been playing long enough. We’re not doing moral victories anymore.” — Paul


VIDEO: Chris Paul shines, but the Clippers fall to the Blazers on Dec. 26

Immediately after the Clippers lost to the Warriors in a memorably chippy Christmas affair, they had to fly into Portland, as raucous a road crowd as they come. From the opening tip, Paul played like a man consumed with leaving victorious.

With seconds remaining, CP3 nailed a baseline fadeaway over two defenders, turned around and stared down the Blazers bench. That shot had given them a three-point lead. But a Nicolas Batum 3-pointer and too much LaMarcus Aldridge in overtime gave L.A. its second consecutive loss.

March 27, 2014 — Rally On The Road, Part II

The Line: 31 points, 9 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers

The Quote:I’ve always loved playing here in Dallas to tell you the truth.” – Paul


VIDEO: The Mavs have little answer for Chris Paul in a late March game

A night earlier, Paul visited his old New Orleans stomping grounds and scored two points on two free throws. Bupkis from the field in 12 attempts, but tallying 12 assists, he posted the worst shooting game in Clippers’ history. Even more, the last time Paul visited Dallas on Jan. 3, he injured his right shoulder that left him out 18 games.

CP3 would procure some getback with a collection of 3-pointers and aggressive drives to the cup, getting to the line 10 times. By the time it was over, Dallas blew an 11-point lead in the final frame. The Clippers would put a dash in the Mavs’ playoff hopes for another night.

March 29, 2014 — Punching Their Playoff Ticket

The Line: 30 points, 12 assists, 3 steals, 1 turnover

The Quote:We didn’t have any answers for Chris Paul. He did everything. He just went wherever he wanted with the ball.” — Rockets coach Kevin McHale


VIDEO: Chris Paul pounds on the Rockets to the tune of 30 points and 12 assists

You could credit Paul as being flat out unconscious when he scored 17 points in the second quarter, or you can highlight Houston’s reluctance — or aversion — to contesting his jumpers. Defensive stoppers James Harden, Terrence Jones and Chandler Parsons took turns standing in front of him, but to no avail.

Paul’s last 3 of the quarter with 52 seconds left put the Clippers up for good en route to sweeping the season series from Rockets and clinching their third straight postseason berth.

33 Comments

  1. Chaser says:

    If tony Parker was lower in volume to CP3 and NOT the best point guard in the league, how is tony general and GO TO man on a continuing 50+ WIN team (for over 14 years) with a big three on their DEATH BED? Parker competes in back to back match ups involving stars through the 24 game play offs and has overcome the best of two generations now. First team point guards like Steve Nash, Cliff paul and DR. WestBrook have No rings because tony, fisher and wade have 99,00,01,02,03,05,06,07,09,10,12,13,14 in the books. A quote from Shaq to Barkley, “Guys with rings don’t respect guys without rings” and that means Cliff Paul too. I’m a kings fan for life but Tony can be the best next to lebron because without him or even Robinson before him to hold together Popavich’s role players with Duncan, the spurs would not have all 6 finals appearances. Email Duncan tell us how he responds to “put any point guard on spurs” then ask him about when Parker made 33 points on the blazers, no dunks, no threes and La Marcus in the paint.

  2. Karl says:

    Tony Parker, CP3, and Rondo are the best point guards in this era. Steph Curry and Lillard are great shooters, but cannot grind out DEFENSIVE battles down the stretch. Regular season success in the last decade has come from great offense, but PLAYOFF success since the Bill Russell era has come from great defense. DEFENSE is why Rondo took over games for the Celtics in the playoffs (2010-2012); it’s why John Stockton saw so much playoff success; it’s why Isaiah Thomas won two Championships; it’s why Oscar Robertson scored so many points on transition opportunities; it’s why Magic Johnson completely dominated normal-sized point guards in the 80s; it’s why Gary Payton was called The Glove; it’s why Chauncey Billups went to the Conference finals 8 straight times. John Wall will become one of these greats, Lillard has this same potential, but Curry needs to change his defense dramatically to have any playoff success.

  3. marlon green says:

    CP3 the best point guard in the league? No sir, he is good but I cant crown him as the best PG in the league. I really cant say who is the best PG in the league right NOW. The only thing we have to go off of was last season and Lillard, Curry, Irving and CP3 all had outstanding seasons last year but I dont think any of them clearly outplayed one another. But as far as you people hating onTP3 just remember they dont just give away FINALS MVP trophies for nothing. So stop it with him just being on a great team with a great coach. Out of those other HOF’s he was clearly the best player during one of those finals runs and lets not forget the seasons he was in the race for league MVP. And CP3 has been on good teams. The hornets were good and Paul and Chandler had people calling them the Stockon and Malone of 2000. But I believe It was Parker and the Spurs that ended their playoff run. And These clippers teams have been stacked with talent every since he has been there. So CP3 has been on good teams. The only knock I have on CP3 is he is too good of a PG and has played on too many talented teams to not have much playoff success. And That meltdown he had in the final moments of his last playoff game last season didn’t make his resume look to good either.

  4. Loek says:

    I don’t understand the part in this article where u said that CP3 flops?
    That ain’t true man.
    CP3 MVP 2015!

  5. John says:

    If Perker wasn’t in Spurs he would be a nobody. You can’t compare CP3 with anyone. He is BY FAR the BEST PG in NBA for years now. Everyone knows it inside and outside USA. People commenting that he is not good because he hasn’t any rings are plain stupid and should be humiliated.

  6. stockton says:

    Yeah, yeah…
    Last minute, close game, I would give the ball to Parker 99% of the times.
    He is not flashy, but he is reliable.
    Of course the Spurs system enables his capacities, but isn’t also a quality to adjust your performance to the teams’s system and needs?
    And CP’s defense is waaay overrated. Steals don’t mean you are a good defender.

  7. MR. J says:

    where is steph curry in this arguement? paul is a beast i agree..but steph curry is on the rise an i believe he is a better point guard then cp..dont forget about rondo either..he was by far the greatest point guard in the league up to his injury and even after he was playing good. cant wait to c him play this year. wheres kyrie in this also? that dude is fun as hell to watch lol breakin all kinda ankles out there an scoring 40+ too..i enjoy watchin cp3 up until the last few minutes of a playoff game lol. i believe that there are a few “best” point guards in the league. not just one man. curry has skills that paul does not have. same as paul has great skills that curry is working on. tony parker??? no way hes the best point guard. hes a great point guard on a great team.

  8. Karlo Garcia says:

    CP3 is the most talented PG!

  9. Shawn Kemp no. 1 says:

    how about that terrible last minute against the Thunder?

  10. GO SPURS GO says:

    I can,t believe this comment so as far you guys are concerned Griffin and DeAndre are not great player right. Don’t be haters Tony is the best point guard in the league. True player perform come playoff time. Every great players have perform through playoff.

  11. bodjee says:

    Michael Carter-Williams is the best point guard.

  12. Matt says:

    i like tony parker, but everytime he’s mentioned its always followed by the spurs. But with Chris its him, or he. Spurs are winners always have been. Clippers are losers always have been. But credit due to CP3 for changing the aura of that franchise, since he has arrived. He did the same thing in NO. Tony has always been on a great team. Best team in the league at times. And it is also the supporting cast. He has hall o famer, by hall o famer surrounding him. But CP3 can lead my team any day.

  13. OKC says:

    Tony Parker can’t guard a parked car.

  14. Somebody else says:

    It’s funny every time there’s any kind of debate about the merits of individual players people start bringing up team championships.

    Note TEAM.

    Chris Paul is comfortably a better player than Tony Parker especially defensively. Don’t forget Parker has been fortunate enough to be part of one of the best teams in the league with one of the greatest ever coaches throughout his whole NBA career. Chris Paul has only been part of a good team since joining the Clippers and they are have not been a finished article team so far. Chris Paul most certainly the number one point guard now and over the past few years.

    • TEG says:

      well because he plays under a great coach and TEAM, honestly and obviously the fact that you have to look at minutes being a factor (particularly Parker being older and Pop going to rest him in certain games of the season).

  15. Chase says:

    Chris Paul’s 9 year career is still being mangled by short comings and he has been releasing the bitterness throughout last season. Dumping Points and dimes on regular season exhibitions then freezing and locking up in the first and maybe second round makes you a Carmelo Anthony or a Tracy McCray. Remote from Kobe or Parker with a hand studded with championships after years of competing through the most competitive and most watched match ups of that year. Chris Paul has always been scared in no mans land in the play offs and is not a franchise player on a championship team. tony Parker was not locking up inside in face of the three peat Lakers or Wades heat when they came short of a three peat. Pauls greatest match ups come in the first round, he is either getting paid to be on a losing team or does not have a championship pedigree.

    • T gas TT ako says:

      CP3 is scared of NOTHING,, just like other players he also mAkes mistakes,, but POUND for POUND hes the best PG in the NBA ryt now,, tony is just lucky hes w/ timmy and pop!!!!

  16. beeballer604 says:

    Taking nothing away from Tony Parker but if Chris Paul traded places with him, there would be a very good chance that the Spurs would still be winning those championships if not more. Chris Paul is clearly the best point guard based on stats and can take over games as needed. It does take more than 1 great player to win a championship. You usually also need a great coach, two all-star teammates and a clutch guy off the bench like Robert Horry and good team defense.

  17. Charlie says:

    How many times do we have to hear this blatant over hype and lying? Chris Paul is not the best pg in the league. The best pg in the league would be a guy that led his team to two straight NBA finals and one 1. He has also consistently beaten Paul in head to head match ups. If anybody was over Parker at the moment it would be Irving cause he is a beast but Parker is the best then everyone else dethrone him first.

  18. DIRK IS THE MAN says:

    WOW!!!, …WOW!! By that logic the best center in the league is Chris Bosh, lol Tony parker would have 0 rings too if he was in New Orleans or Clippers. Tony is the most successful point guard but Paul is the best in the league today.

  19. hope piend says:

    “Defensive stoppers James Harden”. that’s funny.

  20. Reno says:

    As usual, it is all about CP3 and nothing about Tony Parker… How many rings has Cris Paul?

    He may be the most gifted player (with Irving and Wall) but the best PG is the one who leads his team to the title! Same goes with the regular season.

    So far, what are the achievements of CP3?

    • Wow... says:

      i can’t believe u just said that… replace tony parker with chris paul in their current teams. with tony parker in the clippers or NO, he would have no rings and chris paul would have quite a few rings. one man can’t carry a whole team. For example, Lebron in cleveland, and Durant in Oklahoma.

  21. Nasty says:

    Why is he phantomatic/transparent everytime he plays(/is outplayed by) Tony Parker and the Spurs?
    You know.. Tony Parker.. the real #1 PointGuard in the league.. the one with 3 rings and one Bill Russell trophy 😛

  22. krespino says:

    No matter how much hype the writers would try to give him C.Paul is not and will never be a championship caliber PG. He may stuff whatever numbers he wants, he lacks that one crucial factor to win big, that fighter leader character that takes things into his hafinishes for good. Rondo, Parker, Westbrook, Rose have it.
    nds and