Escape from New York took on multiple meanings for the Clippers on Friday night.
Lopez was ejected as the result of the third-quarter dust-up in which he smacked Paul in the lip before the Clippers went on level the New York Knicks, 116-88, in a game that was chippy long before any blows landed.
The scuffle broke out after Paul and Lopez were jostling for a rebound underneath the basket. Paul put his forearm into the chest of Lopez, who retaliated by hitting Paul in the face.
"I don't think I hate anything more than getting my lip busted," said Paul, who finished with 16 points and 13 assists, seemingly all of the latter on lobs to DeAndre Jordan for dunks. "I can't eat for like a week, two weeks."
Jordan pushed Lopez in the back as Lopez walked away, and moments later, amid a scrum of players, Lopez struck Jordan. Lopez received two technical fouls and was ejected. Jordan and teammate Paul Pierce each received a technical.
The tensions seemed to enliven the Clippers, who went on a 13-2 run that included five points from Paul to push their lead to 21 points.
"Chris is a competitor," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said, "so if I'm going to turn a guy on it would probably not be him."
Jordan finished with 20 points for the Clippers, who shot 56.6% and were also much stronger defensively after giving up an average of 119 points over their previous three games.
They held the Knicks to 38.8% shooting and no more than 24 points in any quarter. New York's Carmelo Anthony scored 16 points but made only four of 12 shots, and 7-foot-3 rookie Kristaps Porzingis was even more inefficient with 13 points on four-for-17 shooting against a variety of defenders.
Wesley Johnson had 14 points off the bench for the Clippers on five-for-five shooting, making all four of his three-point attempts.
The biggest worry for the Clippers by the start of the fourth quarter was getting out of town.
"We've got to speed talk," Rivers told reporters before starting his postgame interview. "We've got a storm going on."
Scores of flights out of area airports were canceled because of Winter Storm Jonas, prompting the Clippers to move up their charter flight that had been scheduled for Saturday. They departed for Newark Airport almost immediately after the game, and their flight to Toronto took off shortly after 1 a.m. EST.
Rivers said his players probably wouldn't speak to him for leaving behind the New York nightlife for Toronto, where they are scheduled to play Sunday against the Raptors.
Jordan playfully dawdled in front of his locker, taking extra time to button his dress shirt for a night of fun that would have to wait for another time.
"Don't remind me," he said.
There was also the matter of the fine accompanying his technical foul for striking Lopez, though Jordan didn't seem to regret his actions.
"Chris is the smallest dude on the floor, you know what I'm saying?" Jordan said. "He's one of our leaders, so we've got to protect him."
Not that Jordan was exactly surprised by the way things escalated.
"I mean, Chris can be frustrating at times," Jordan acknowledged. "But it's an emotional game. Both teams got heated."
Jordan joked that he would ask Paul to pay the fine because he was defending him.
"Yeah, like, 'Hey, can I get that?'" Jordan said. "I need it. Bills and stuff."