OKLAHOMA CITY -- If it had been Michael Jordan, he'd have turned towards the scorer's table and playfully shrugged his shoulders.
But Chris Paul is not that dramatic.
Paul channeled the logo on his sneakers, turning in a memorable performance in the Clippers' 122-105 win over the Thunder in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Just like Jordan did in the 1992 NBA Finals, Paul splashed home six 3's in the first half, never missing. He drained two more in the third quarter before mercifully bouncing one off the rim.
Since injuring his right hamstring in Game 1 against the Warriors, Paul had been unable to shake loose off the dribble. In Game 7 Sunday night, he showed flashes of feeling better.
Monday, he was untouchable.
Paul finished with 32 points and 10 assists, carving up the Thunder defense in every imaginable way. Darting through and around defenders, Paul made it clear that any offensive woes he had stayed in round one.
Paul, like his teammates, played free of pressure and scrutiny, things there were plenty of during a drama-filled round one.
Players said there was a sense of relief to get through the series with the Warriors, and Monday, they played like a much freer team. From the opening basket, a J.J. Redick jumper off a set play, throughout the rest of the game, the Clippers out-shot and out-executed the higher-seeded Thunder.
Blake Griffin, playing in his hometown, scored 23 points, in 31 minutes � the most any starter played. Jamal Crawford calmly scored 17 points in 18 minutes off the bench.
The Clippers led by 14 after one, 17 at the half and by 26 through three. The lead ballooned to as many as 28 points, as the Thunder was never really close.
Led by Paul, the Clippers' scored 39 points in the fourth quarter � as many as the team scored in the fourth quarter in Game 7 Saturday.
While a brief run cut the Clipper lead to 20 early in the fourth, forcing Paul and Griffin up to check in, back-to-back 3's from Jamal Crawford and Jared Dudley, sent the two right back to the bench smiling.
No Clipper starters played in the fourth quarter.
While Russell Westbrook scored 29 points and Kevin Durant added 25, but the duo didn't get much help from anyone else.
(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services