Changing of the guard; Paul shines in Clippers' debutDec 26, 2011 - 7:25 AM
Acquired in a trade from New Orleans earlier this month, Paul scored 20 points, dished out nine assists, and hit three big shots late in the fourth quarter, as the Clippers downed Golden State, 105-86, to spoil the head coaching debut of Mark Jackson.
Reigning Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin had 22 points and Los Angeles newcomer Chauncey Billups totaled 21 points to help the Clippers take the opener of the lockout-shortened, 66-game schedule.
Caron Butler, who was acquired in the offseason, finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, who held a dominating 64-43 scoring difference in the second half.
DeAndre Jordan, who was signed to an offer sheet by the Warriors, only to be matched by the Clippers, had a career-high eight blocked shots.
David Lee scored 21 points and had 12 rebounds before fouling out for the Warriors, who have missed out on the playoffs each of the last four seasons. Stephen Curry, hampered by an ankle injury, went just 2-of-12 from the field and had four points.
Coming off a 32-win campaign last year, the Clippers made big changes in the offseason. With just one playoff appearance in the last 14 years, the Clippers signed Butler on December 9. Three days later, they claimed five-time NBA All- Star point guard Billups off waivers, and on December 14 they landed Paul. The deal came a few days after NBA commissioner David Stern blocked a trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers.
Although the Warriors were never ahead in the last quarter, they managed to get within one on three occasions, the last time at 82-81 on a hook shot by Andris Biedrins with 6:51 left.
Mo Williams then hit a fadeaway jumper to stem the tide. That started a game- changing 21-3 burst.
Clinging to a 91-84 lead with four minutes remaining, Paul drained a trio of jump shots, the last one a high-arching attempt with the shot clock about to expire. That widened the gap to 13 points with 2 1/2 minutes left.
"The ball is going to be in his hands, Chauncey's hands and Blake's hands," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said of the play down the stretch. "It was a team effort tonight, but Chris took the game over when he had to."
The Warriors shot 39 percent from the field, but the big problem was the turnovers by their backcourt. Monta Ellis and Curry combined for nine of the team's 16 turnovers.
"It's really not the shooting, it's careless turnovers," Jackson said. "We did not take care of the basketball. You can miss shots, but you can't give teams opportunities to push the ball in transition because you're careless."
The Clippers turned a six-point deficit into a six-point lead late in the first quarter. Billups scored seven in the period, which ended with LA leading 24-20.
"It's so comforting to play with somebody whose game I'm familiar with and somebody who knows the game and studies the game like me," Paul said of Billups. "I have the utmost confidence in Chauncey anytime he has the ball."
Los Angeles wasted a nine-point lead in the second, and was behind 43-41, at the half. Butler's 3-pointer with under five minutes left in the third gave LA a 63-53 lead. The margin stood at 75-68 going to the fourth.
Jackson, who enjoyed a successful 17-year career as an NBA point guard, was named head coach of the Warriors on June 6...The Warriors are 9-13 all-time on Christmas, while the Clippers are 3-7 on the holiday...Before Sunday, the Clippers franchise last won on Christmas 33 years ago, when the San Diego Clippers defeated the Seattle Sonics 123-118 on December 25, 1978 in Seattle...Ellis had 15 points and eight assists.
- LOS ANGELES: 105
GOLDEN STATE: 86
Dec 26 1:20 AM
- LOS ANGELES: 75
GOLDEN STATE: 68
End of 3rd
Dec 26 12:44 AM
- LOS ANGELES: 41
GOLDEN STATE: 43
Dec 25 11:51 PM
- LOS ANGELES: 24
GOLDEN STATE: 20
End of 1st
Dec 25 11:13 PM
- LOS ANGELES: 0
GOLDEN STATE: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Dec 25 10:47 PM
- Warriors-Thunder Preview May 23
- Draymond, Westbrook swap barbs over fouls, kicks May 23
- Warriors' Green could face discipline after flagrant foul May 23
- Durant, Westbrook lead Thunder in blowout win over Warriors May 23
- Warriors-Thunder Preview May 21
- Warriors' big men must come up big in Game 3 against Thunder May 21
- Donovan, Kerr took very different paths to NBA coaching May 21
- Thunder will try to bounce back after big loss to Warriors May 20
- Column: Savor our version of Magic-Bird - Curry vs LeBron May 20
- Stephen Curry's sore right elbow not limiting him on court May 20
- Gary Payton unimpressed by Stephen Curry's unanimous MVP May 20
- Klay Thompson has carried Warriors this postseason May 19