AtTheHive on DAL-NOH Game Two: How F*cking Good is Chris Paul?
How !@#%^&@ good is Chris Paul? I might as well make this recap about his game more than the Hornets’ performance. Literally everything that happened offensively started and ended with him. To follow up a 35-10 playoff debut, he fires in 32 and 17? Unreal. 10 for 16 from the floor, 12 for 14 from the field, 32 points, 17 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals. Just take another second to digest that. Then recall that this was a game where Dallas was supposed to adjust to Paul, to make up for how he embarrassed them in Game 1. Paul was supposed to work much harder on defense, and to an extent he did. But Chris Paul just would not be denied tonight. He showed every “veteran” virtue you could possibly want. Let’s review some of his biggest attributes in this game:
On numerous occasions, CP passed up a wide open three to probe the lane and create an easy bucket. The example I remember best was when the Hornets were up 16 with Dallas threatening. Paul had a look at a wide open three with Dampier closing. Instead of taking it, he blew past Dampier, looked off Dirk, and then found a teammate for a wide open layup. At that point in the game, getting a sure bucket to stop the bleeding was much more important than stretching the lead. Paul understood that and did what was necessary.
I don’t think I’ve seen Paul play as great a transition game all season as he did tonight. His pass to Wells under the hoop whilst staring at Peja the whole time was wicked. As usual, he found Peja for the transition three from the wing on a couple of instances. He got a little bit overaggressive in pushing the ball during the third (en route to picking up 3 turns) but quickly rectified the situation.
The thing everybody was talking about pre-game- Avery Johnson’s plan to trap CP a lot more in Game 2. A lot of that trapping happened in the first quarter, but Paul escaped virtually every single one via a quick spin move or fancy dribbling. I was somewhat surprised that Avery didn’t go the trap in later quarters, but with Paul passing out of it deftly, what else was he supposed to do? In the end, CP made sure that the trap hurt the Mavericks more than it hurt the Hornets.
Paul became the first player in NBA history to open his playoff career with back-to-back 30 point/10 assist games. Unless Dallas can find some answers at home, it could very easily become three in a row on Friday.
[top image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/67225156@N00/]