OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers showed what they can do when their minds are on basketball.
Paul made a career-high eight 3-pointers and scored 32 points to help the Clippers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 122-105 Monday night in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal.
The Clippers acknowledged that the racial comments by owner Donald Sterling that got him permanently banned from the league were a distraction during their first-round series against Golden State.
Once they put the initial shock behind them, they beat the Warriors and carried their momentum into Game 1 against the Thunder. Los Angeles shot 55 percent from the field and made 15 of 29 3-point attempts.
Paul, who had never made more than five 3-pointers in a game, also had 10 assists."When somebody's got it going like that, you just try to stay out of the way as much as possible, but also help keep that fire going," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said.
Though Paul is a career 36 percent 3-point shooter, he doesn't usually shoot them so often. Once he started hitting them, he became increasingly aggressive. He made 8 of 9 for the night."I came over here early and got in a lot of shots, so I think that had a lot to do with it, too," Paul said.
Oklahoma City didn't anticipate Paul taking on the scoring load for Los Angeles, but he took advantage of good screens and knocked down the shots.
The Thunder felt they defended him relatively well."I thought on a lot of those 3s, especially early in the game, we had a hand in his face and a hand in his shots," Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha said. "So we did a decent job, but those shots went in and that boosted their whole team."Griffin scored 23 points,
Jamal Crawford had 17 and J.J. Redick added 12 for the Clippers.Russell Westbrook scored 29 points, Kevin Durant had 25 and Serge Ibaka added 12 for the Thunder, who suffered their worst home loss since moving to Oklahoma City.