SAN FRANCISCO – Great quarterbacks don’t have to possess prototypical height anymore. They’re no longer statues in the pocket or gunslingers letting it rip like your uncle at a Fourth of July function. The name of the game now is keeping the ball out of the opponent’s hands and playing mistake-free football as long as possible.
Chris Paul on Monday night on the Chase Center hardwood might as well have been in shotgun, surveying what’s in front of him and hitting his All-Pro receivers in stride.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Bay Area and California sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
“I try to make smart decisions and whatnot, but also make a conscious effort to push the ball and get the ball up the court so that it is balanced,” Paul said. “It is kicking it ahead, it is trying to put plays together. It is like a quarterback that doesn’t want to throw interceptions, especially when you have the shooters and scorers that we have on this team.”
The Warriors’ offense was humming quickly after the opening tipoff, and Paul was the one conducting a Golden State symphony in sync. Within the first three-and-a-half minutes, the Warriors already had hit four 3-pointers – three by Klay Thompson and one by Steph Curry. Paul assisted on all four.
Yes, Curry led the Warriors in scoring, as he has in all 13 games he has played this season. He needed just 14 shot attempts to score a game-high 32 points. Curry has scored at least 20 points in every game he has played this season, as well as making at least four 3-pointers in every game, and he has scored 30 or more points in over half of his games. But the scoring story was about his backcourt mate who finally scored 20 points for the first time this season.
That’s right. In his 14th game played this season, Klay Thompson tallied his first 20-point performance on 7-of-16 shooting and was 5 of 11 behind the 3-point line. Paul assisted him on five of his seven made shots, and CP3 found Curry for three of his five made 3-pointers.
Golden State Warriors
Thompson in his decade-plus of wearing a Warriors jersey has seen countless nights of him putting up 20 points. He has shared the floor with fellow star scorers, and a handful of great distributors. Not a pure pass-first point guard like this, though.
“Well it makes your job as a shooting guard so much easier when you have one of the greatest passers to ever play orchestrating out there,” Thompson said. “I think we’re still building great chemistry. It’s obviously incredibly early in the season still. We’re almost at the quarter mark, so it’s important we lean on Chris for all his experience and continue to play off him and let him quarterback.”
Golden State’s offense was humming at times against Houston, tossing the rock around the court before finding a wide-open three for Klay. Yet the Warriors’ 26 assists were 1.5 fewer than their previous season average. But the biggest benefit of Paul is him being a 38-year-old hall monitor making sure things don’t get too out of control in the Warriors’ chaotic offense. The Warriors turned the ball over only eight times, seven fewer than what they average. Paul’s first, and only turnover, opened the fourth quarter.
He already had a 12-point, 10-assist double-double on the night at that point. Paul played 34 minutes, his third-highest this season, and finished with 15 points, 12 assists, three 3-pointers, six rebounds, two steals and that one and only turnover. The Point God was a plus-12 in a five-point win to snap a six-game losing streak.
Paul’s 12 assists accounted for 35 points. Rookie Brandin Podziemski was second in assist points with nine. No other Warrior had more than three assists in the win.
“It was a masterclass,” Curry said of Paul’s performance.
To finally get out of a 12-day funk, the Warriors’ offense found its flow, even on a night where they missed numerous bunnies at the basket and tip-ins as well.
Brock Purdy on Sunday became the first 49ers quarterback to have a perfect passer rating in a game since Joe Montana in 1989. On Monday in San Francisco, CP3 played QB1 at a Hall of Fame level for the Warriors to show some home-court pride, shake off a losing stench and call themselves winners for the first time in a long time.