LOS ANGELES (AP) Twenty points, 20 assists, zero turnovers – what caught Chris Paul’s eye first?
”The turnovers,” the Clippers point guard said. ”That’s the first thing I look at every game.”
Paul was historically efficient on Saturday night, helping Los Angeles beat the New Orleans Pelicans 133-105 with its highest offensive output of the season.
It was the first 20-20 game of Paul’s career, and he’s the first player since at least 1977-78 – when turnovers were first recorded for individuals – to have 20 points, 20 assists and no turnovers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
”As a point guard, I’m like the quarterback, so a turnover is like an interception,” he said. ”And when you have as much fire power as we have, a turnover takes away that opportunity.”
This was the fifth time this season Paul did not commit a turnover, but he averaged 7.8 assists in the first four games.
”He didn’t have any turnovers?” Los Angeles’ DeAndre Jordan said. ”He is a legend, man.”
The Clippers shot a season-best 57.4 percent from the field and made a season-high 17 3-pointers on 36 attempts to snap a two-game skid.
”We were just running the same play over and over, to be honest,” Paul said.
Jamal Crawford scored 22 points and Jordan had 19 points and nine rebounds for Los Angeles, which won for only the third time in eight games after opening the season 14-2. Austin Rivers had 18 points and J.J. Redick had 16.
”Coach played a lot of guys tonight, and everyone who stepped on the court did something,” said Mo Speights, who chipped in 17.
Coming off a tough loss to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, the Clippers got back to work in practice on Thursday and Friday.
”A lot of times you have a great practice and it doesn’t translate right away,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. ”I thought yesterday was the start of how we played tonight.”
The Pelicans, playing without resting Anthony Davis, lost their fifth straight. New Orleans gave up its season-high in points and has lost three consecutive road games, falling to 2-9 away from home.
”I thought we played well the first half. I thought we competed, did a good job,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. ”And the turnover thing reared its ugly head. The problem with our turnovers is that we have too many live turnovers. Fourteen is not an exorbitant number, but when you give up 22 points, that puts you in a tough situation.”
Tim Frazier scored 20 points to lead New Orleans. Cheick Diallo, playing his first extended time for the Pelicans, added 19 points and Terrence Jones had 18.
”Basically, Coach told me yesterday, `I want to give you a chance,”’ Diallo said. ”I got a chance today so I had to take it. I just played hard every possession he wanted me to play.”
The Clippers led 61-55 at halftime, and then broke the game open with an 18-6 run over the opening 4:29 of the third quarter. Rivers hit a pair of 3-pointers and capped the stretch with a lefty layup off the glass, giving the Clippers 79-61 lead.
This was the Clippers’ eighth consecutive victory over the Pelicans at Staples Center, a streak dating to 2012.
The Pelicans elected to rest Davis, the NBA’s leading scorer with 31.4 points per game. He had averaged 44 minutes over his previous three games.
”I think he just needs to take the day off,” Gentry said.
Through Friday night, Davis had averaged a league-leading 38.1 minutes per game.
RIVERS RUN THROUGH
Rivers took a hard elbow to the jaw from a driving Jones with 4:22 left in the third quarter. Rivers returned late in the quarter, tried to play in the fourth, but had to be helped from the court early in the final quarter. He was taken to the locker room to be evaluated by team physicians, according to the Clippers.
3,000 AND COUNTING
Saturday’s game marked announcer Ralph Lawler’s 3,000th regular season Clippers television broadcast. Lawler joins Al McCoy (Phoenix) and George Blaha (Detroit) as the only active NBA play-by-play announcers to call 3,000+ games with one team.
Pelicans: Guards Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore were not available Saturday night, both dealing with turf toe. Each missed his third consecutive game.
Clippers: Blake Griffin sat out his second game of the season after injuring his right knee against Golden State on Wednesday night. ”It’s nothing,” Doc Rivers said. ”He’ll play Monday.” … Austin Rivers made his first start of the season in Griffin’s place. Guard Raymond Felton missed his second consecutive game because of personal reasons.