Chris Paul: 'Everything that happened at the end is on me'
Los Angeles Clippers' point guard Chris Paul takes the blame for the Clippers blowing a late lead in Game 5.
Through the first 162 minutes of this series in which Chris Paul was on the floor, he was a master with the basketball. During the first 4.5 games of this series, the Los Angeles Clippers' point guard turned the ball over only six times, with five of them coming in the first two games against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Through the first half of Game 5 between the Clippers and the Thunder, Paul was flawless with the basketball.
He didn't turn the ball over once and had seven assists. He wasn't shooting the ball well (3-of-10 from the field) but he wasn't giving it to the other team. He was being the control freak with the ball we've all dubbed the "Point God." But eventually regressing to the mean happens and a point guard against an aggressive defense can't sustain ball security at all times.
Paul turned the ball over three times in the third quarter while racking up six more assists. In the fourth quarter Paul didn't have a meltdown, necessarily, but he did make three huge mistakes in the final minute that cost the Clippers an incredibly advantageous 3-2 series lead heading back to Los Angeles for Game 6.
"It's me," a devastated Paul told the press conference following the 105-104 loss. "Everything that happened at the end is on me."
As his coach, Doc Rivers, railed against a replay review that left the team dissatisfied with the outcome of the game, Paul took complete responsibility for the Clippers not closing out that game. Regardless of the calls they may not have agreed with, the team wouldn't be in that position without huge mistakes made by everybody, including its leader.
The typically steady hand of CP3 managed to score six points on 3-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter, but he had two costly turnovers and had a huge foul on a Russell Westbrook 3-point attempt, which allowed the Thunder to take a one-point lead with six seconds left. How the Thunder got there was a Kevin Durant 3-pointer with 43 seconds left. Once OKC got a stop on a miss by Jamal Crawford, Durant quickly scored at the rim.
With 13 seconds left, Westbrook stole the ball from Paul in the backcourt on a play in which the Thunder point guard may have gotten him on the arm. There looked to be some contact, but play resumed and the Clippers had to get a stop. That's when the infamous out-of-bounds call on the Clippers happened as Matt Barnes slapped the hand of Reggie Jackson, which caused the ball to go sailing out of play. The Thunder retained possession and Westbrook attempted a questionable attempt from downtown.
Paul fouled Westbrook on the arm, albeit on a fairly questionable call, and the Thunder took the lead. On the final possession of the game for the Clippers, Paul drove down the right side of the lane against Serge Ibaka, but as he went up for a shot he lost the ball for his fifth turnover. The Clippers' last chance was dashed.
Plenty of things went wrong with that game, but as of right now Chris Paul is interested in publicly blaming just one person: himself.
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