Chris Paul Saves The Clippers; UNC Might’ve Lost Their Shot At A Title

The Clippers haven’t been right for a while. Since they lost Chauncey Billups to his devastating injury, they’ve actually been below .500, much closer to the older Clippers than the team that was supposed to snatch Hollywood from their bigger brother. Luckily, they have Chris Paul. Three or four times this year, he’s bailed them out. He did it again in overtime of their 87-83 win over the Pistons. He started off the extra frame with two swagger-filled long jumpers, and then made the shot that broke Detroit’s back with 22 seconds left. To cap off his dominating 19-point, 15-assist night (he also had nine boards), Paul grabbed control of a jump ball and found Randy Foye for a layup, and then hit two free throws in the final four seconds. Still, the Pistons? In overtime? Get your act together fellas … Rudy Gay was a monster in Memphis’ five-point win over the Wizards. The forward had 27 points and nine rebounds, his second straight beast mode night since Z-Bo returned. Who said they couldn’t coexist together? … At one point, John Wall (25 points) caught an alley-oop, and packed it on Marc Gasol‘s mug, plus one. But that wasn’t even the top play in this game. Jeremy Pargo had one of the nastiest dunks of the year, stuffing the croissant all into Kevin Seraphin‘s face … Sacramento blew out Minnesota 115-99 behind another big night from Marcus Thornton (24 points) … Dwyane Wade (31 points) had 14 points in money time of Miami’s 91-81 slapping of Orlando. They had one of their craziest defensive runs of the season in the second half, at one point holding the Magic to a dozen points over a 16-minute stretch. We’re sure Dwight Howard (18 points, 11 rebounds) was loving that. He need more bodies like Wladimir Klitschko and Vitali KlitschkoBosh‘s biggest contribution down the stretch was guarding Howard. Superman could barely get an entry pass thrown his way, let alone any momentum-turning dunks or easy looks against Bosh (23 pts). Meanwhile, his teammates were jacking contested threes – Q in particular shot the ball like he thought he was still the best player on his team – and showing why they desperately need a perimeter player who can create his own shot. If only there had been a time this season when the Magic could have, like, traded for somebody to help capitalize on Dwight’s prime years. Oh wait … LeBron (14 points) also had his 400th-straight double figure scoring game, the ninth-longest streak in NBA history … Hedo Turkoglu‘s beard is getting out of control, which made us think: If you put James Harden‘s beard on Hedo’s face, he’d look like Sasha Baron Cohen in The Dictator … A Michael Redd sighting. The man who came back from the dead had 25 points as Phoenix went over .500 on the year after their 99-86 thumping of Houston … Marcus Camby introduced himself to Houston… with an ugly airball on his first shot. Maybe he wasn’t tanking it in Portland, and really can’t play anymore … OKC ran Portland out of the building, 111-95 as Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 54 points … We laughed when the TV guys were talking about Kendrick Perkins in the first half. They said “He’s a grown man who plays grown man defense” before adding “…at a grown man speed” … Lakers/Jazz was one of those games where you’re gonna need off-duty cops to manage the line of Kobe Bryant haters. He shot 3-for-20 from the field (15 pts) with 7 turnovers and 4 assists, and the Lakers lost despite getting 33 points and 11 boards from Andrew Bynum. (Of course, if Kobe had finished with 33 points and 11 boards and L.A. lost, his critics would still blame him.) Look, there’s no need even getting into another argument: Kobe/Lakers fans will accept this as one of those nights you just have to live with if you want to enjoy all the benefits of the Kobe experience – five NBA championships, a billion points scored, etc. – while Kobe/Lakers haters will use this game to show exactly why Kobe would send Norman Dale into an insane asylum … Paul Millsap led Utah with 24 points and 9 boards. The Lakers got to within three points with about 30 seconds to go, but Kobe missed a three at the end and Millsap made the clinching free throw. As if anybody else on the Lakers would be taking that shot … Joe Johnson (28 points) continued to terrorize NBA defenses, leading the Hawks to 59 percent first half shooting and eventually to a 16-point win in Cleveland. If it wasn’t for Josh Smith (3-for-15 shooting), the Hawks probably could’ve dropped 120 … Did you realize last night was actually the first double-double of Kyrie Irving‘s career (19 points, 10 assists)? Interesting considering SO many people love the kid as a traditional point guard. If you haven’t watched much of his career up close, you might not realize dude is, was, and will probably always be a scoring point guard. If you’re waiting on future 10-assist averages, you’ll probably be disappointed. He’s going to be spectacular, but not in the way some might have you believe … We must say we absolutely love those darker Cleveland jerseys, but we’re not down at all with the whole wearing road jerseys at home thing. It just looks stupid and throws everything off. Stick to the script … A couple news items: Denver signed Wilson Chandler to a five-year, $37 million deal; and Gilbert Arenas is scheduled to work out for the Grizzlies today. Would you want Arenas on your team, and for how much? … Keep reading to hear how your bracket was probably totally destroyed by one wrist injury …

The remaining eight spots in the Sweet 16 were on the line in Sunday’s NCAA Tournament action, and two national title favorites got two different types of scares. North Carolina beat Creighton, but on the same day they got PF John Henson (13 pts, 10 rebs, 4 blks) back from a wrist injury, they lost PG Kendall Marshall to a fracture in his right wrist. Marshall (18 pts, 11 asts) is left-handed, so it’s possible he could pull a Lazarus Sims and gut it out, but don’t underestimate how much that injury will impact his dribbling and passing, not to mention defense, keeping defenders at bay with his off-arm, etc. … Someone knocking out Georgetown came just a round too late. After many actually thought the Hoyas might lose in the first round, they went out and were handled in the second half of their three-point loss against N.C. State. Hollis Thompson‘s 23 points couldn’t withstand the Wolfpack, who had three guys all score 14 … Among others, Florida dominated Norfolk State, Michigan State barely survived Saint Louis and Ohio continued their Cinderella run with a six-point win over South Florida … And the kid who saved Kansas’ season was barely in their rotation last year, and had scored just five points in the first half. But Elijah Johnson is playing like someone who expects to quickly become a household name in college basketball. He had 18 points in their 63-60 comeback win against Purdue, and was key in three game-deciding plays. Kansas didn’t grab the lead until 37 minutes of game clock were gone. After a big block on one end, Johnson caught a pass from NBA three-point range, and let loose a dagger, putting the Jayhawks up one. Purdue came right back and retook the lead on a floater in the lane, but Johnson soon came up with a rebound and found Tyshawn Taylor with a perfect alley-oop with only seconds left on the clock. On the following possession, he finished his end-game run with a steal and a layup. The Boilermakers’ Ryne Smith nearly hit a shot off the glass at the buzzer that would’ve tied it, but alas we’ve finally seen the end of college basketball’s Van Wilder, Robbie Hummel. Purdue’s best player walked off the court fighting back tears after he blew up for 26 points … We know it’s a major longshot, but can you imagine if Cincinnati and Xavier wound up playing for the national championship? It could be the first college basketball game ever played in an Octagon … We’re out like Derek Fisher Rockets jerseys.

For breaking news, rumors, exclusive content, and contests sent right to your inbox, sign up here for the Dime Email Newsletter.

Follow Dime Magazine on Twitter

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook