"If you don't know him, it's a little scary,"
Fiery. Passionate. Focused. They all worked to describe the way Paul played in the third quarter Monday night at
Coming off a foul-plagued first half, Paul outscored the
Paul's 18 points in the quarter were two more than the Mavericks could manage. He made eight of nine shots in the quarter to go with three steals and two assists and finished the game with 27 points and seven assists.
The Clippers could tell Paul's big quarter was coming after he made a floating jumper and a turnaround fadeaway on the team's first two possessions of the second half.
"He zones out," Crawford said. "He's lost in the game. You can totally see it."
Paul also helped spark a defense that held the Mavericks to 38 points in the second half.
The Mavericks' extended scoring drought coincided with a deluge of Clippers baskets as they went on a 45-12 run after trailing, 65-64, with 4:53 left in the third quarter.
"Our defense in the second half was unbelievable," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said.
It was a reappearance of the defense that has largely carried the Clippers in the absence of injured star forward Blake Griffin before vanishing late in a loss to the
"That's why our coaches are so hard on us, because they see us have stretches of defending like this," Paul said. "I think for us, all we've got to do is commit to doing it every night and every possession and see what happens."
"This one sucks," said Dallas guard
Paul sat out the final 5:48 of the second quarter after being called for his third foul. It wasn't the worst thing that could have happened.
"I don't want to say that played into it, but I was well-rested, you know what I mean?" said Paul, who played the entire third quarter. "I had enough energy."
There was another good sign for the Clippers (41-21) in the locker room afterward: some lighthearted ribbing between Jordan and Matias Testi, the assistant team equipment manager whom Griffin had punched in late January at a Toronto restaurant.
Jordan mimicked Testi with a whiny voice and Testi joked that he would never go out to dinner with Jordan again.
It seemed like old, happy times for the Clippers.