OAKLAND, Calif. - Blake Griffin offered a reminder for all those expecting an immediate transformation now that Chris Paul is part of the Los Angeles Clippers.
"Not every game is going to be just alley-oop left and right," Griffin said.
Griffin, CP3 and Co. are far from a finished product. They certainly showed signs of the talented team this can be at both ends of the floor.
Paul had 20 points and nine assists in his highly anticipated debut, Griffin added 22 points and seven rebounds, and the Clippers beat the Golden State Warriors, 105-86, late Sunday night to spoil Mark Jackson's opener as a first-time coach.
"While we try to figure each other out and learn guys' hot spots and stuff like that, we want to win at the same time," Paul said. "We just keep talking about 'We've just got to find a way to win, regardless of how it looks, how ugly the game is.' "
Monta Ellis had 15 points and eight assists after his grandmother's death earlier in the day in Mississippi, and David Lee added 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Warriors, who cut the Clippers' lead to a point at 78-77 with 9 minutes, 35 seconds remaining on Brandon Rush's three-pointer before Los Angeles pulled away.
It was hardly a spectacular opener for Los Angeles, though coach Vinny Del Negro will take methodical any day. These new-look Clippers hope to shine as Los Angeles' other NBA team, perhaps no longer the Lakers' stepchild.
"We grinded it out defensively when we needed to," Del Negro said. "We controlled the tempo in the fourth quarter. I just know we can play better."
Paul - who nearly wound up with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers before the NBA nixed the trade - teamed with Chauncey Billups and Griffin for the first time since joining the Clippers in a Dec. 14 trade from New Orleans.
Billups scored 21 points and hit a key three-pointer late for Los Angeles.
Paul had a quiet first half: seven points on 1-for-6 shooting in 19 minutes. But he came on with several clutch baskets in the waning minutes to finish 7 for 12.
"Just try to manage the game. It's not my first rodeo; it's seven years," Paul said. "This is the first year I think I've had as many options as I do."
Each time the Warriors got close, Los Angeles found an answer.
Andris Biedrins scored on a running hook with 6:51 left to cut the Clippers' lead to a point again at 82-81, then Mo Williams came through moments later. Caron Butler's three-pointer with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter gave the Clippers the first double-digit lead at 63-53.
Many fans among the sellout crowd of 19,596 at revamped Oracle Arena wore Warriors Santa hats, while the Clippers got into the holiday spirit with bright-green socks to go with their bright-red uniforms.
Jackson, who hadn't coached at any level after a successful playing career, appreciated longtime friends Chris Mullin, Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen's handling the broadcast for the final opener on Christmas.