OAKLAND, Calif. – Prize acquisition Chris Paul had 20 points and nine assists in his much-anticipated Clippers debut, Blake Griffin added 22 points and seven rebounds and Los Angeles beat the Golden State Warriors 105-86 on Sunday night to spoil Mark Jackson’s opener as a first-time coach.
Monta Ellis had 15 points and eight assists after his grandmother’s death earlier in the day in Mississippi and David Lee added 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Warriors, who cut the Clippers’ lead to 78-77 with 9:35 left on Brandon Rush’s 3-pointer before Los Angeles pulled away.
It was hardly a spectacular opener for CP3 and Co., though coach Vinny Del Negro certainly will take methodical any day. These new-look Clippers hope to shine as Los Angeles’ other NBA team, perhaps no longer the Lakers’ stepchild.
Paul, who nearly wound up with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers before the NBA nixed the trade, teamed with Chauncey Billups and Griffin for the first time since coming to the Clippers in a Dec. 14 trade from New Orleans.
Billups scored 21 points with a key 3-pointer late for Los Angeles, which plays at San Antonio on Wednesday before returning for four in a row and seven of eight at Staples Center.
Paul had an unspectacular first half: seven points on 1-for-6 shooting in 19 minutes. But he came on with several clutch baskets in the waning minutes to finish 7 for 12.
Point guard Stephen Curry started for Golden State despite being questionable after he sprained his surgically repaired right ankle in an exhibition game at Sacramento last Tuesday night.
Klay Thompson, the Warriors’ rookie first-round pick from Washington State, scored seven points in 19 minutes off the bench in his first game with Golden State. Owner Joe Lacob has predicted Thompson will be in the running for Rookie of the Year.