Clippers rout the Thunder despite losing Chris Paul to a thumb injury

Clippers point guard Chris Paul knocks the ball away from Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook during the first half Monday night.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

Chris Paul was upset as soon as it happened, obviously knowing his body well enough to recognize he had suffered an injury that would prevent him from finishing the game at Staples Center on Monday night.

That injury, incurred late in the second quarter of the Clippers’ easy 120-98 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, was diagnosed as a sprained left thumb. The team said Paul had X-rays during the game that were negative for broken bones.

Paul, who had eight points, six assists and three rebounds when he left the game shortly before halftime, will undergo an MRI exam Tuesday to determine how serious the injury is, the Clippers said.


“Guards know. That’s the one injury we get,” said Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, who was a point guard during his NBA playing career. “It’s that reach, thumb, flip-back, and you know the pain. I’m sure CP was thinking the worst at that time.

“He’s already got pretty good news with the normal X-ray being negative. But we’ve just got to hope for the best. But I guarantee you he was thinking the worst at the time. There’s no doubt about that.”

The Clippers reported after the game that Paul was experiencing swelling in the thumb. Paul was not made available for comment.

Paul, whose 2015-16 season was ended by a broken right hand suffered in the first round of the playoffs against Portland last spring, was injured this time after he was sandwiched between Russell Westbrook, who had the basketball, and Joffrey Lauvergne, who was setting a screen that Paul was trying to get around.

The Clippers called a time out with 2 minutes 26 seconds left in the second quarter to allow Paul a chance to go to the locker room.

Paul appeared angry as he stalked off the court alongside Jasen Powell, the Clippers’ director of medical services and head athletic trainer.

“I guess they said Westbrook came down on it,” Rivers said. “But whenever you see a guard pull their hand out, just from being a guard, you pretty much know it just happened.”

Paul also suffered a sprained left thumb during the exhibition season, but did not miss the start of the regular season. He missed seven games recently because of a left hamstring injury.

The Clippers, though concerned about Paul, pushed forward without their floor leader to win their seventh consecutive game.

Already playing without power forward Blake Griffin, who had right knee surgery last month, the Clippers played through the absence of their two All-Stars to build a 27-point lead in the third quarter.

Raymond Felton took over for Paul at the point and finished with 15 points and six assists.

DeAndre Jordan was once again a force for the Clippers, collecting 19 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in 30 minutes. J.J. Redick (20 points) and Marreese Speights (23 points, 10 rebounds) also were big contributors.

“Chris started the game so well,” Rivers said. “To lose that, that could have really made your team go another way and it didn’t.”

The last time the Clippers lost was against the Thunder, a season- worst 26-point beat down on the last day of 2016, the final defeat in a six-game losing streak that left the group having to reassess their state.

But they’re back winning now, and their main focus Monday was trying to slow down the one-man wrecking crew that is Westbrook, who came in averaging 30.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.5 assists this season. He had 24 points Monday on seven-for-19 shooting, with four assists and five rebounds, getting nowhere near his usual triple-double.