Lakers star LeBron James has made it fairly obvious which squad he’s cheering for — and it has nothing to do with how his Lakers match up. James has been cheering on his buddy and Thunder star Chris Paul, who was clutch down the stretch in Oklahoma City’s 104-100 victory, dropping 28 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals to help force a decisive Game 7. Paul scored 15 of those points in the fourth quarter.
“CP3!!!!!!! Put some respect on his name and more!” James tweeted once the score went final.
Paul is part of James’ close circle of friends inside the NBA. They came into the league two years apart and have spoken openly of their friendship away from the court. The star pair make up half of the “Banana Boat Crew,” which was born when a photo emerged of James, Paul and Dwyane Wade on vacation. Carmelo Anthony is also part of the squad, but was not present in the photo.
Chris Paul: Some People Built for Fourth Quarter
Paul’s performance on Monday drew a hefty amount of praise on social media.
So far as [Chris Paul], we simply can’t say enough about the guy,” ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith wrote. “Social Justice Issues/Boycotts. The playoffs. Both a leader on the court w/ the playoffs and a President of the NBPA. And this guy goes out, plays like that & forces a Game 7. Unreal! Just absolutely unreal! #PROPS.”
Paul delivered an emotional response after his heroics and it’s clear he is happy just to keep playing for at least another night.
“When it gets to clutch time, fourth quarter, some people built for it,” Paul said. “You saw Dame [Lillard], all that stuff. Some people just built for it and we going to keep hooping.”
The quotable line from Paul could have been a veiled shot at Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook, who played miserable in the fourth quarter, combining for just 10 points. Westbrook also air-balled a shot late and threw away the ball on what could have been the tying possession late.
Paul was traded for Westbrook last offseason in a trade that many framed as Oklahoma City getting a washed up vet on a bad contract. Paul’s been anything but that in a Thunder uniform and will likely garner All-NBA honors of some kind when they are announced.
Paul also delivered a viral moment in the win, slapping Rockets forward Robert Covington on the butt after hitting a 3-pointer in his face.
Lakers Get Day Off After Oklahoma City Forces Game 7
Another side-effect of the Thunder winning was the Lakers getting a day off on Tuesday from practice. The Thunder and Rockets will wrap up their series on Wednesday, with the Lakers facing the winner for their second-round opener on Friday.
The Lakers took care of a banged up Portland Trail Blazers team in their first round series, dropping Game 1 but throttling the Western Conference darling the next four games. It will have been almost a full week without a game for the Lakers, who wrapped up their series on Saturday.