Chris Paul notches NBA’s first triple-double of season in win over Utah

Chris Paul and triple-doubles are a wondrous thing.

Paul dismissed a question about his rare feat Monday like teammate DeAndre Jordan dismissed Utah’s Rudy Gobert, who fell flat on his back in a posterizing dunk. Paul was happier with the victory, and the way the Clippers played the first three games of the season, you can’t blame him for displacing his joy on a win over Utah. The Clippers (3-1) lost only once, but it was to Sacramento at home, and survived scares against the Thunder and Lakers.

In the Clippers’ 107-101 win over the Jazz, Paul had 13 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. He earned the triple-double when he got the final rebound with 3:07 left at Staples Center.

Paul’s triple-double is the first of the NBA season — yes, even LeBron James doesn’t have one yet – and the first for him since the 2011 playoffs against the Lakers.

"We won," Paul said. "It’s not the first one. I think it would have sucked had we lost. But we won, and that’s all that matters."

Triple doubles. No big deal.

But Paul recorded the triple-double in the final game of a stretch in which the Clippers played four games in five days.

It’s a very big deal.

And on a sprained left foot to boot.

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"You’ve added color to his triple-double, thank you very much," Doc Rivers said of the injury that clearly hasn’t slowed Paul. "That’s who he is. He’s just a tough guy and a warrior. You love having him on your team until walking in here. A 6-foot guard getting a triple-double is really impressive. It really is. You would think he’d get his with steals, not rebounds. He has the greatest hands I’ve ever seen around the ball. It’s amazing what he can do."

Sure, Paul’s teammates have to score when he passes the ball. Just like the Clippers passed the ball around the locker room after Monday’s game, a cool, symbolic gesture to reinforce the idea of all those teammates who helped Jamal Crawford surpass the 15,000-point mark in his career.

And Crawford –€“ the NBA’s reigning sixth man of the year — preferred to focus on the people who helped him accomplish that feat, much like Paul focused on the bottom line. A victory. DeAndre Jordan scored all eight of his points on four crowd-pleasing dunks.  

Triple doubles aren’t supposed to be easy, and yet, the 29-year-old Paul, who has 14 career triple-doubles, including two in the postseason. He had an incredible six in the 2008-09 season when he played for New Orleans.

Utah’s missed shots often had to ricochet off the rim in just the right location where Paul was near on some occasions. And, Paul had to score.   

Paul even had more rebounds than Blake Griffin, who was one rebound shy of a double double with 31 points and nine rebounds.

 "I think he is capable of doing that night in and night out," Griffin said. Just with the way he scores and the way he passes. Those are almost guaranteed. He did a great job of coming in and stealing some of our rebounds."

The Clippers have been outrebounded in all four games, and every preseason game, but Griffin can joke about it. The Clippers are winning and Rivers has preached that everyone needs to aid rebounding machine DeAndre Jordan – who led the NBA in that category last year – and Griffin.

"I just tried to get in there and help," Paul said. "DeAndre and Blake do a great job on the boards. Coach told us guards we have to rebound more, so I just try to get in there and help."

That was some assist.

Paul even gave an assist to the training staff. He went to the team’s Playa Vista facility early in the morning Monday to get treatment on the left foot sprain he suffered in Sunday’s game against the Kings.  

Utah forward Gordon Hayward thought Paul’s rebounding was the difference in the game.

"When he’s going after rebounds like that, I guess it’s hard for our bigs to crash (the glass)," Hayward said. "A lot of those rebounds (all 10) were defensive. So when our bigs are crashing, that can be a load down there. And he did a good job of coming in and getting the rebounds that his bigs didn’t get."

You’d think a point guard and triple-doubles would be made of points, assists and steals, but Paul do some of the dirty work on the boards, too.

"It’s hard for him to get rebounds. Tonight, he got them all," said Jordan, who had 9. "They were coming to him. You’re going to have nights like that where they come to you, but a lot of them he went and got. You’ve got to give him credit. Whenever our point guard can have 10-plus rebounds, I think we’re going to win that game."

They did. And that’s what Paul liked best.

The rest of us can marvel at that triple-double.