Now Rivers is finding out just how good his star point guard is.
"He does things even better than I thought," Rivers said after Paul's 25-point, 13-assist performance Monday in the Clippers' 94-83 victory over the PHILADELPHIA 76ers. "He makes me smart, that's for sure."
Guard/forward Evan Turner scored 25 points to lead PHILADELPHIA, which is 0-3 since losing rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams to a skin infection on the front of his right knee. Overall, the Sixers (7-15) are 1-7 this season without Carter-Williams. They lost for the seventh time in eight games.
The Clippers, 2-2 over the first four games of a seven-game road trip, reeled off the first 13 points of the third quarter to extend a 44-36 lead to 57-36. Paul assisted on four baskets in that stretch, including 3-pointers by forward Jared Dudley and guard Willie Green.
Los Angeles (14-8) enjoyed a 76-60 advantage at the end of the period. The Sixers drew no closer than seven in the final quarter, the last time at 90-83. Griffin drew an offensive foul from PHILADELPHIA forward Hollis Thompson with 1:32 left, and Paul coaxed in a jumper. Jordan later added a tip-in to account for the final margin.
Paul said the strong start to the third quarter was hardly coincidental.
"We talked about it, our first five, right before the second half started," he said. "We didn't want to come out flat. We've been doing that a lot this year, especially on the road, so we tried to come out aggressive. We didn't want to work our way into it. We wanted to run and pick up the pace. That gave us a little bit of a cushion."
The double-double was Paul's 18th of the season. During his three years with the Clippers, Los Angeles is 26-3 in games when he generates 20-plus points and 10-plus assists. The Clippers are also 7-0 this year when he scores more than 20.
PHILADELPHIA's Tony Wroten, who started at point guard for Carter-Williams, called Paul one of the best point guards in the league.
"You can't shut him down," Wroten said. "You have to try to contain him. ... He's always in control. He's never rattled. He's a great point guard, and he knows how to get other people involved. ... He's got the ball in his hands 95 percent of the time. It's hard sometimes for defenders to play 24 seconds."
On the other end of the floor, the Sixers never could get untracked offensively. In addition to their overall struggles from the field, they shot 3-for-21 from 3-point range, a season-low 14.3 percent.
Neither team shot well in the first half. The Clippers made just 35.6 percent of their attempts but limited the Sixers to 30.2 percent marksmanship, another season low, in taking a 44-36 lead after two quarters. The point total was also PHILADELPHIA's feeblest in any half this season.
Griffin had 15 points before the break, 11 as Los Angeles assumed a 33-21 lead early in the second quarter, but the Clippers missed their next 10 shots. PHILADELPHIA rattled off nine straight points to cut the gap to three, but Los Angeles outscored the Sixers 11-6 the rest of the half. Paul and Griffin had four each in that stretch.
Los Angeles ended the night shooting 42.7 percent from the floor.
NOTES: Clippers C DeAndre Jordan's double-double was his 10th of the season. He grabbed 16 or more rebounds in a game for the sixth times this season after doing so just seven times in his first five seasons combined. ... Sixers G Michael Carter-Williams remains day-to-day, according to coach Brett Brown. Carter-Williams was discharged from the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania on Sunday after spending three nights there while undergoing treatment for the skin infection on the front of his right knee. ... Free agent G/F Stephen Jackson, who last played in the NBA for the San Antonio Spurs last season, announced via Instagram he signed with the Clippers. However, Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers, speaking before the game, said only that a deal was close with Jackson. "Wwe need him, like, now," Rivers said. The Clippers are thin on the perimeter, with G J.J. Redick (broken hand), G/F Matt Barnes (retinal tear, left eye) and G Reggie Bullock (ankle sprain) all out. ... ESPN reported Sunday that the Sixers could offer F Thaddeus Young to the Houston Rockets in exchange for C Omer Asik. "I think it would be very hard (to leave), seeing as this has been the only place I've been in my career," said Young, who is in his seventh season.