Chris Paul not only led the Clippers to a victory over the Golden State Warriors in their home opener on Thursday night, he did something no other NBA player has done in a game since steals were first recorded in the 1973-74 season: score 40 or more points while having at least 15 assists and five steals, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Paul, who had 42 points to go along with 15 assists and six steals in the 126-115 win, is arguably the best point guard in the NBA. If you disagree, you better at least mention him with the likes of San Antonio’s Tony Parker, Chicago’s Derrick Rose, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, New Jersey’s Deron Williams or anyone else you consider among the elite.
The only two players in the NBA in the last 20 seasons to have scored at least 40 points and have 15 assists in a game are reigning MVP LeBron James and newly retired Allen Iverson, according to ESPN.
What plateau could be next? Oscar Robertson (twice) and Nate “Tiny” Archibald are the only players to have scored at least 40 points and had at least 20 assists in a game. Paul’s career highs are 43 points and 21 assists. He’s had two other games with 20 assists.
Paul said that performing well Thursday on the heels of the season-opening loss to the Lakers on Tuesday is just one step in a long season.
“It was tough, coach challenged us, we watched a lot of film,” he said in a TV interview after the game, talking about bouncing back from the loss. “It’s a long season. Even after tonight, we can’t get too high because we know [Sacramento] is resting, waiting on us to get there.”
The Clippers travel to Sacramento on Friday to play the Kings at 7 p.m.