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Thunder: Chris Paul logs career game No. 1,000 as OKC tops Cleveland

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Oklahoma City's Chris Paul, left, tries to get past Cleveland's John Henson during Wednesday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma City's Chris Paul, left, tries to get past Cleveland's John Henson during Wednesday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

Ava Heardt, on the night of her 13th birthday, was waiting courtside for Chris Paul. And she was holding a can’t-miss sign.

“CP3, how about a jersey swap?” it read. “For my birthday!”

Heardt’s wish came true. She walked out of Chesapeake Energy Arena and into a freezing Oklahoma City night wearing her Thunder beanie and proudly clutching Paul’s No. 3 jersey.

The jersey would’ve been a keepsake on any night, but Wednesday in particular. The Thunder beat the Cavaliers 109-103 in regular-season game No. 1,000 for Paul.

While trade clouds loomed over the state, the 34-year-old point guard was up to his old tricks — ones that have made him a star for 15 years running.

Paul danced as he dribbled. His elbow jump shot was money. He coaxed officials and trash talked young Cavaliers guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland — both of whom were in elementary school when Paul entered the league in 2005.

Cleveland rookie Kevin Porter Jr. dealt Paul a glancing blow to the face late in the second quarter. Paul closely followed Porter down the floor, giving Porter a wise talking-to.

Officials stood between them, discussing whether to review the play for a possible flagrant foul.

“Don’t review it, don’t review it, don’t review it,” Paul shouted as he checked his lip for blood.

Maybe Paul knew it wasn’t a flagrant foul. It wasn’t. Maybe he didn’t want to show weakness. Either way, Paul’s influence on the game is ever present. Even on a night when his final stat line was somewhat quiet: 12 points, seven assists, three rebounds.

After a controversial technical against Thunder point guard Dennis Schroder late in the fourth quarter, Paul put OKC ahead 97-95 with a midrange jumper. The Cavaliers responded, but so did Paul with a dump-off pass to Steven Adams for a go-ahead bucket on the next possession.

“A consummate pro,” Cleveland coach John Beilein said before the game.

Beilein remembered a moment from when the Thunder and Cavaliers met in early January.

“I went over to talk to Darius (Garland) and Collin (Sexton) and listened to (Paul) talk the game to his teammates,” Beilein said. “He wasn’t talking trash, he was talking the game. And that was really impressive. That’s something all young players need to learn to do.”

Paul became the 10th active player to join the 1,000-game club. Paul has played 102 playoff games which don’t count toward his overall stats.

Hawks forward Vince Carter, the league’s eldest statesman at 43-years-old, leads all active players with 1,526 games played. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,560) and Robert Parish (1,611) are the only players in NBA history with more.

Ahead of Paul in games played among active players are Carter, LeBron James, Kyle Korver, Tyson Chandler, Andre Iguodala, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Marvin Williams.

Paul joins Glen Rice at the 1,000-game mark, tied for 132nd all-time.

“It’s cool, but I always just think about all the ones I missed,” Paul said after the game. “Some people always say, ‘stay positive,’ but I can’t help but think about my rookie year, I think I missed a few games. My second year I missed 18 games for an ankle injury. I mean it’s a blessing to be able to compete and play 1,000 games but I just gotta keep it going.”

Paul is closing in on 35,000 career minutes. He’s already played 50 games this season, well on pace to surpass the 58 games he played in each of the last two seasons.

Donovan reflected before the game on what Paul means to OKC’s young core.

“It would really be a terrible mistake on any young player’s part not to absorb as much information and knowledge as they can from somebody like that,” Donovan said.

“I would imagine that those guys, as they get later on in their careers and they’re asked the question, ‘Who’s somebody that impacted you when you were younger?’ I think Chris’ name will probably be the first name that will come out of all those guys’ mouths.”

Related Photos
<strong>Oklahoma City's Dennis Schroder (17) goes past Cleveland's John Henson (31) during an the Thunder's 109-103 win Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Oklahoma City's Dennis Schroder (17) goes past Cleveland's John Henson (31) during an the Thunder's 109-103 win Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-fc7544ad483e058662dd68eb10937034.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Dennis Schroder (17) goes past Cleveland's John Henson (31) during an the Thunder's 109-103 win Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Oklahoma City's Dennis Schroder (17) goes past Cleveland's John Henson (31) during an the Thunder's 109-103 win Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Oklahoma City's Dennis Schroder (17) goes past Cleveland's John Henson (31) during an the Thunder's 109-103 win Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-895f35955cf42b13682e403d59726bd0.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari, left, attempts a shot beside Cleveland's Cedi Osman during Wednesday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari, left, attempts a shot beside Cleveland's Cedi Osman during Wednesday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari, left, attempts a shot beside Cleveland's Cedi Osman during Wednesday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-41a01986cac2e7c36b64e9d658ca1518.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, left, goes past Cleveland's Collin Sexton during Wednesday night's NBA game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, left, goes past Cleveland's Collin Sexton during Wednesday night's NBA game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, left, goes past Cleveland's Collin Sexton during Wednesday night's NBA game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-cfdbb0e21c62d2ff6001e691722c0912.jpg" alt="Photo - Thunder fans Jason and Eva Heardt show off the sign that led to them getting Chris Paul's jersey Wednesday after OKC's win against Cleveland. [JOE MUSSATTO/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Thunder fans Jason and Eva Heardt show off the sign that led to them getting Chris Paul's jersey Wednesday after OKC's win against Cleveland. [JOE MUSSATTO/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Thunder fans Jason and Eva Heardt show off the sign that led to them getting Chris Paul's jersey Wednesday after OKC's win against Cleveland. [JOE MUSSATTO/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3c11185e3fc471d95f29513b487a5ada.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Chris Paul, left, tries to get past Cleveland's John Henson during Wednesday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Oklahoma City's Chris Paul, left, tries to get past Cleveland's John Henson during Wednesday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Oklahoma City's Chris Paul, left, tries to get past Cleveland's John Henson during Wednesday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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