Paul sinks eight 3s to ensure Clippers take away home-court advantage.
The second round of the NBA Playoffs began on Monday night, with the Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Wizards both winning on the road in Game 1.
With owner Donald Sterling’s controversy seemingly now out of their minds and with the ability to concentrate fully on basketball, the Clippers showed how dangerous they can be against the highly fancied Oklahoma City Thunder.
Chris Paul made a career-high eight 3-pointers and scored 32 points to help the Clippers draw first blood in this Western Conference semi-finals series, while Blake Griffin insisted that when a team-mate gets going like that, “you just try to stay out of the way as much as possible”.
Griffin scored 23 points while Jamal Crawford had 17 and J.J. Redick added 12 for the visitors, with Russell Westbrook (29 points) and Kevin Durant (25 points) leading the way for the Thunder.
However, the star duo were unable to prevent the worst home loss for the Thunder since their move to Oklahoma City, but with Game 2 on Wednesday night at home, they will need to move on and bounce back quickly.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Wizards continued their momentum after eliminating the Chicago Bulls in the first round with a Game 1 win over the top seeded Indiana Pacers.
Bradley Beal scored 25 points, with 14 coming in the fourth quarter, while Trevor Ariza added 22 as the Wizards also showed good hustle on the defensive end to come out on top.
While that was Washington’s first second-round win in 32 years, Ariza insisted that it was the best time to get a win in Indianapolis having failed to do so in the regular season, although they are fully aware that there is a lot more work to do in this series.
Game 2 is on Wednesday in another home game for the Pacers, although after apparently salvaging their season and showing their usual grit and determination in getting past the Atlanta Hawks, they appear to have taken another step back.
Indiana were out-rebounded 53-36 while Washington made a franchise playoff-record 10 3-pointers with Ariza going 6 of 6, and Pacers center Roy Hibbert ended the game with no points and no rebounds.
Paul George and George Hill scored 18 points apiece to lead the hosts, but with Lance Stephenson snapping at coach Frank Vogel after being withdrawn in the third quarter, all is evidently not well again in Indiana.
Washington Wizards 102-96 Indiana Pacers
Los Angeles Clippers 122-105 Oklahoma City Thunder