There are not too many times you are going to see Baron get totally outplayed with the game on the line. One of those times was Friday night.
Chris Paul schooled Baron in the second half, specifically the fourth quarter, when Baron normally shines. Look at these fourth-quarter lines:
Chris Paul – 11 points, 5-for-10 FGs, 4 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers
Baron Davis – 2 points, 0-for-3 FGs, 2 assists, 0 steals, 1 turnover
Don Nelson: “Chris Paul is as close to Steve Nash as you’re going to get for a while and he’s still so young, so he’s going to be quite the player for a long, long time.”
In the first half, Davis (20 points, 6 assists) got the better of Paul (9 points, 7 assists). Byron Scott started off with Paul defend Davis, which was a mistake. In the second half, Paul was on Ellis for the most part and a bigger guard (Morris Peterson often) defended BD. Still, Davis guarded Paul, and he was wearing Baron out, running him off screens and killing him with those midrange floaters.
Baron Davis: “You’ve gotta pay attention to him at all times. He’s always looking to pass and has some good shooters around him. He did a good job of spreading the ball around and they knocked down shots and that’s how they were able to break that lead and get it wide open.”
This gives Chris Paul a leg up on the All-Star bid, if he didn’t already have it. Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady, based on the third returns, will be the starting Western Conference guards. Steve Nash is a lock to be voted on by the coaches as a reserve. That means one spot left for a guard, two at the most.
The coaches must pick two guards, two forwards and a center and two wild cards. They could use a wild card to pick another guard. But there are a lot of forwards who are more deserving (Duncan, Carmelo, Nowitzki, Boozer, David West, Shawn Marion, Josh Howard), so it is likely the two wild cards will go to forwards. If it does go to another guard, Brandon Roy, Tony Parker and Allen Iverson will be in the discussion.
But if it does come down to one guard spot, it has to go to Chris Paul. His team is better. He handled Baron head up. The All-Star Game is in his backyard.