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Chris Paul should be an All Star this year.
Exhibit 21, Your Honor: The fourth quarter and overtime of tonight’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
The statistical evidence: 16 fourth quarter points, including 10 in the final 3:30 of the period. Singlehandedly carrying the Thunder from a near double digit deficit to a tie at the break. Four points in overtime. Another win.
These were 34 year old legs playing the second night of a road back to back and the third game in four nights in a game that went 53 minutes. And yet he looked fresher than anyone on the court as the end game buzzer sounded.
That’s now 11 wins for the Thunder after trailing going into the fourth quarter. Or in other words, more than half of OKC’s victories this season. The next closest teams have six such comebacks.
Those wins are due in large part to Clutch Paul. Or is it Comeback Paul? Crunch-time Paul? Cardiac Paul?
CP3’s raw per-game averages are incredibly solid but aren’t eye popping: 16.6 points/6.5 assists/5.1 rebounds. But his shooting percentages are fantastic across the board. As a matter of fact, he is shooting better than his career average in all three phases of shooting: 37.3% from 3, 47% from the field and 90.5% from the free throw line.
But he’s not the highest scorer on the team. That’s Shai. Nor is he second. That’s Schroder. Third? Nope. Gallo gets the bronze. But CP3 is the team’s leading scorer when it matters the most.
The man is leading the NBA in clutch points (105) on the season, and it’s not even close.
Paul has taken a ragtag team that everyone thought would be rebuilding and tanking this season and led them to the 7 seed in the playoffs. He’s buying the team Italian suits and NFL Playoff tickets. The Thunder are one of the NBA’s biggest surprise and feel-good stories of the season. The team’s chemistry is palpable, the younger players are thriving, and CP3 is at the center of it all. His play on the court and leadership off of it should be recognized.
Chris Paul should be an All Star this year.
But in the West, there’s a crowded field of guards he’d have to beat out. Isn’t it ironic, don’t ya think, that the usual shoo-in he might beat out would be…
- The Thunder are now 4-0 in overtime games.
- The Thunder have the best record (15-5) in the Western Conference since Thanksgiving. The only team with a better showing over that span is the Milwaukee Bucks.
- The Nets have been bad lately, but without Gallo and Noel and on the second night of a road back to back, this was a really impressive win.
- I dig the Nets court. It’s like the court is when Dorothy is in Kansas and the players are Dorothy, the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow when they’re in Oz. Made me wanna mute Cage and Fisher and put on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Only a handful of people will probably get that last reference, but those who do will appreciate it.
- I like that the Thunder’s young guns are completely fearless attacking the rim. I do wish they were better at finishing at the rim, however.
- Refs have finally been giving Shai continuation calls lately. Not sure if it’s a result of his respect among the league growing or just happenstance, but the increase has been noticeable.
- Donovan wisely challenged a foul on the Thunder in which Dennis Schroder was elbowed in the jaw. I thought it was a pretty terrible non-reversal by Chris Paul’s untucked jersey buddy referee Scott Foster. Schroder very clearly got smacked in the face. That always overrides anything else.
- Doesn’t it just seem like every Thunder possession of every game should be a Chris Paul midrange jumper?
- Steven Adams has been a monster on the boards lately. He had 18 tonight going against Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan. He had 15 last night against Joel Embiid. He had 16 on Saturday against Tristan Thompson.
- RIP to Schroder’s streak of scoring 17+ points. He only scored 14 tonight, so his streak stops at an impressive 18 games.
- If clutch defense is a thing, which I believe it is, then the Thunder’s defense was clutch in overtime. OKC’s defense absolutely smothered the Nets in the extra period. Brooklyn scored 2 points in 5 minutes.
- Thunder starting small forward Terrance Ferguson is now 2-1 on the year vs former Thunder starting small forwards Kevin Durant and Paul George.
- Chris Paul’s season is going to be enshrined into the Plant Based Hall of Fame.
- Up next: Russ returns to OKC this Thursday. Some other Rockets will be with him, but whatever. The Thunder will either win or lose, but whatever. The night will be special for Russ and for every fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder. No matter the results, this will be the game of the year.