Changing of the guard; Paul shines in Clippers' debut

Chris Paul paid immediate dividends for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Acquired in a trade from New Orleans earlier this month, Paul scored 20 points, dished out nine assists, and hit three big shots late in the fourth quarter, as the Clippers downed Golden State, 105-86, to spoil the head coaching debut of Mark Jackson.

Reigning Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin had 22 points and Clippers newcomer Chauncey Billups totaled 21 points to help the Clippers take the opener of the lockout-shortened, 66-game schedule.

Caron Butler, who was acquired in the offseason, finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, who held a dominating 64-43 scoring difference in the second half.

David Lee scored 21 points and had 12 rebounds before fouling out for the Warriors, who have missed out on the playoffs each of the last four seasons. Stephen Curry, hampered by an ankle injury, went just 2-of-12 from the field and had four points.

Coming off a 32-win campaign last year, the Clippers made big changes in the offseason. With just one playoff appearance in the last 14 years, the Clippers signed Butler on December 9. Three days later, they claimed five-time NBA All- Star point guard Billups off waivers, and on December 14 they landed Paul. The deal came a few days after NBA commissioner David Stern blocked a trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers.

Clinging to a 91-84 lead with four minutes remaining, Paul drained a trio of jump shots, the last one a high-arching attempt with the shot clock about to expire. That widened the gap to 13 points with 2 1/2 minutes left.