Griffin steps up for Paul in biggest way possible

No Chris Paul was no problem for the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals matchup with the Houston Rockets.

The Clippers won handily, 117-101, as their other top player led the way and a couple of Paul’s backcourt mates came through in his absence.

Griffin fills Paul's role and his own

Blake Griffin had an all-around sensational game, finishing with 26 points, 14 rebounds and a career-high 13 assists, nine of which led to 3-pointers.

He’s the first player with back-to-back triple-doubles in a postseason game since Jason Kidd accomplished the feat in 2002.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Griffin is the third non-guard in NBA history with back-to-back postseason triple-doubles. The other two are NBA legends Wilt Chamberlain (who did it twice) and John Havlicek.

Elias also notes that Griffin is the fourth player in NBA history with back-to-back 20-point triple-doubles in the postseason, joining Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson and Baron Davis.

Supporting cast: Rivers, Crawford do what is needed

Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford filled in ably for Paul, the Clippers' All-Star point guard.

Crawford scored 21 points off the bench. He has 14 career 20-point games as a reserve in postseason play. Only Manu Ginobili, Vinnie Johnson and Eddie Johnson have more 20-point games off the bench in the playoffs over the past 30 seasons.

The Clippers scored 71 points on 24-of-45 shooting when Crawford brought the ball across midcourt.

They scored 43 points on 16-of-33 shooting when Rivers brought the ball up, but they vastly improved in the second half, scoring 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting.

Hot from 3-point range

The Clippers tied the NBA playoff record for 3-pointers in a half, hitting 11 of 16 in the second half. They were 2-of-15 from 3-point range in the first half. The previous team to make 11 3-pointers in a playoff half was the 2011 Mavericks against the Lakers.

Rockets usually don’t lose this way

James Harden had 20 points and 12 assists in defeat for the Rockets.

Houston is 27-3 in games in which Harden has at least 20 points and 10 assists.

Harden struggled in a couple of areas, finishing with nine turnovers, which matched his season high.

He also shot 3-of-9 and committed eight of his nine turnovers in half-court sets. He scored seven points on 2-of-8 shooting and committed six turnovers when guarded by J.J. Redick or Matt Barnes.

Looking Ahead

Teams taking a 1-0 lead go on to win a best-of-seven NBA playoff series 77 percent of the time. Game 2 is Wednesday in Houston. According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the Clippers have an 81 percent chance of winning the series.