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Paul's play drives Clippers past Bulls

3/1/2015

Jeff Haynes/AP

Chris Paul scored 28 points and had 12 assists against the Bulls.

The list of players missing from Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls was impressive. But unlike Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, Chris Paul was conspicuous by his presence in Los Angeles' 96-86 win.

Paul scored or assisted on 63 percent of the Clippers’ field goals Sunday (12 field goals, 12 assists). He entered the game second in the NBA in that category, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, scoring or assisting on 42 percent of his team’s field goals. John Wall of the Washington Wizards entered the day leading the NBA at 43 percent.

With Paul on the court, the Clippers outscored the Bulls by 20 points, compared to a minus-10 differential with Paul off the court. The Clippers shot 48 percent from the field when he was on the court and 25 percent with him on the bench.

The per-play effect of Paul’s play was just as stark. The Clippers averaged 0.99 points per play with him on the court but 0.52 points per play without him.

Pick-and-roll strategy works for Los Angeles

The Clippers’ pick-and-roll ball handlers scored 24 points, nearly 10 points more than their season average. Paul, who finished with 28 points, got more than half of them off pick-and-roll plays.

Clippers' pick-and-roll ball handlers

The Clippers improved their record to 6-3 since Griffin was sidelined by surgery to remove a staph infection in his right elbow.

The Clippers’ second-leading scorer was reserve Jamal Crawford, with 16 points. Entering the game, he was averaging 16.5 points off the bench, the most in the NBA this season.

Crawford won the NBA's Sixth Man Award last season and is challenging to become the first repeat winner since Detlef Schrempf in 1990 and 1991 for the Indiana Pacers.

Mirotic gets no scoring help in fourth quarter

Rookie Nikola Mirotic led the Bulls with a career-high 29 points. Entering Sunday, the Bulls had been 17-4 when he scored 10 or more points.

Mirotic scored 16 of the Bulls’ 17 points in the fourth quarter. A free throw by Joakim Noah accounted for the Bulls’ other point.

Already missing Rose, the Bulls lost Jimmy Butler with an elbow sprain during the game. He scored 10 points in 22 minutes before the injury.

Noah, who had 11 rebounds, has had double-digit rebounds in seven games in a row, lifting his season average to 10.0 rebounds per game. Noah and Pau Gasol (12.1 per game) are one of two sets of NBA teammates averaging 10 or more rebounds this season, the other being Detroit’s Andre Drummond (12.9) and Greg Monroe (10.5). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last NBA teammates to each average at least 10 rebounds per game in the same season (minimum 50 games each) are the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum (11.8) and Gasol (10.4) in 2011–12.