Chris Paul records game-clinching block in milestone performance

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul had a game to remember on Sunday.

Just over an hour after he moved into seventh on the career assists list, Paul made the biggest play of the game by blocking Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson in the closing seconds.

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The block helped preserve a 94-93 win and an eight-game winning streak. No other team has an active streak of more than five games.

With the Rockets leading by one and 8.9 seconds left, Brunson picked up a defensive rebound following James Harden’s missed shot. After trading passes with Luka Doncic, Brunson cut in from the three-point line and took an off-balanced shot, which Paul swatted away as time expired.

The block was Paul’s second of the game, following another block of Brunson in the closing minute of the first half. He’s averaging a career-best 0.3 blocks per game this season, and despite missing 17 games due to a hamstring injury, this is his first campaign with three games of multiple blocks.

Rockets point guard Chris Paul blocked Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson in the closing seconds of Sunday's game. (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Rockets point guard Chris Paul blocked Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson in the closing seconds of Sunday's game. (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

Moves into seventh on the all-time assists list

Paul recorded his third assist of the game with 1:38 left in the first half when PJ Tucker hit a three-pointer. That gave him 9,061 for his career, which tied former Detroit Pistons great Isiah Thomas for seventh-most all-time.

Paul took sole possession of seventh place four minutes into the second half when he found Eric Gordon on a 25-foot triple. In all, seven of his nine assists on the night came on three-pointers.

How much higher on the assists list can Paul climb?

Paul doesn’t have much of a shot at John Stockton’s all-time record of 15,806 assists, but he certainly could climb much higher. He’s just 820 assists behind sixth-place Oscar Robertson and 1,268 behind third-place Steve Nash.

Paul is only 33 years old, and although he has only ever played a full 82 games once in his career, he could play for at least another five seasons. Each of the top four players in assists played through their age-38 season, and Paul will have the benefit of modern medicine. He’s already signed through 2021-22.

Assuming he plays the rest of the season, Paul is on pace for 492 assists this year. He’s averaging 504 assists over the past three seasons, and if he can keep it up, he should have no problem making it past Nash’s 10,335 mark. He might even have an outside shot at surpassing Jason Kidd (12,091) for second-most all-time.

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