Chris Paul was excellent. The Clippers were somehow even better.
Los Angeles brought its 'A' game to Oklahoma City and put a 122-105 beatdown on the Thunder in a game that was even more lopsided than the score indicated.
Despite the final, Oklahoma City came out on fire and took a 16-10 lead. Doc Rivers called for a full timeout and must have given the inspirational speech of a lifetime because a different Clipper team emerged from the huddle.
Los Angeles outscored the Thunder 29-9 the rest of the first quarter, largely thanks to Chris Paul's hot hand. Paul hit all five of his 3-point attempts in the quarter as Los Angeles mounted a 39-25 lead.
Things got worse in the second.
Paul drained another 3 with 4:33 to play in the quarter to put LA up 60-39. The 21-point deficit was a new playoff high for the Thunder. The Clips took a 69-52 lead into the half and the Thunder looked powerless to stop it.
"They were feeling comfortable…we didn't make them feel us," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "They were on fire from the 3-point line. Paul hit eight of ‘em and as a team they hit 15 so we have to do a better job of guarding that line."
Somehow, things got even worse in the third.
J.J. Redick's layup made it 82-56 at the 8:22 mark of the third and before long, the Thunder was in desperation mode.
OKC elected to impliment the hack-a-Jordan plan, intentionally fouling center DeAndre Jordan in hopes that the 43-percent free-throw shooter would lay some bricks.
Jordan shot just 1-8 from the line during the experiment, but the Thunder's offense couldn't capitalize.
It was ugly the rest of the way. Much of the fourth quarter was spent with reserves such as Derek Fisher, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones getting heavy minutes.
Paul finished with 32 points on 12-14 shooting, including 8-9 from downtown. He also dished out 10 assists. Former Oklahoma Sooner Blake Griffin added 23 points and five boards.
Russell Westbrook finished with 29 points on 9-14 shooting, while Durant added 25. Westbrook didn't have much of an answer for Paul after the game other than to admit that his counterpart had great day.
"I mean, he hit eight 3s," Westbrook said. "He wasn't doing nothing crazy, he hit eight 3s. He hit tough shots."
Los Angeles shot 55 percent from the floor, 52 percent from behind the line and won by 17 despite missing 13 free throws.
"We kept ‘em out of our paint. We didn't come out nonchalant, we came out aggressive, they hit shots and they kinda loosened our defense up," Durant said of the Thunder's defense.
Brooks elaborated, explaining that while Los Angeles certainly shot well, the Thunder's defense left much to be desired.
"We have to definitely play much better on the defensive side of the ball," Brooks said. "They were getting to the free throw line, they were getting to the paint, they were making 3s. We have to do a better job all the way around. And we will get better, that's not who we are."
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.