The Oklahoma City Thunder have grown quite accustomed to Chris Paul doing incredible things in the clutch this season. It probably helps to block out the memory of Paul hitting game-winners against them back in the day.
On this date eight years ago, Chris Paul hit a wildly off-balance layup with 8.8 seconds left to defeat the Thunder, a team that would advance to the NBA Finals that season.
A lot of things to love about Paul’s game-winner.
- The red jerseys. I’ve mentioned my undying affection for these reds, which I believe were the best color of any jersey in the NBA at that point. (Blake and I have diverging thoughts on the matter.)
- Kenyon Martin sets the screen! Granted, Vinny Del Negro relied far too heavily on Martin and Reggie Evans at the expense of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in that era, but Martin was an underrated favorite Clipper of mine.
- Paul usually settles in the midrange, right at the elbow, in end-of-game situations. The variety here to get all the way to the basket is enjoyable.
- The high-arcing finish over Serge Ibaka is beautiful.
- Paul finished tied for second in the league with 143 points in clutch situations in 2011-12. No. 1 in the NBA — with 145 points — was Kevin Durant. Durant missed the 3-pointer to win the game on the ensuing possession.
Paul’s game-winner wasn’t the only major highlight in this game. Griffin, who always enjoyed playing in front of his home fans in Oklahoma, had one of his trademark dunks off the feed from CP3.
It’s only Year 1 of Lob City, but Paul and Griffin were already a special combination.