Paul: Playing offense for Rockets a 'breeze' compared to Clippers

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PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 16: Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball under pressure from Josh Jackson #20 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on November 16, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Christian Petersen / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Chris Paul lost a game Wednesday night for the first time this season, and even then, it came with the caveat that he couldn't finish the contest due to an adductor injury.

Paul is thriving in his first season in Houston, and the Rockets are thriving along with him, racking up a 14-1 record in games he's suited up for. And, after spending 12 campaigns as the chief offensive orchestrator in New Orleans and Los Angeles, the eight-time All-NBA point guard doesn't seem bothered by the fact that he's had to adapt his style, move off the ball, become a secondary playmaker, and take a backseat to James Harden in the Rockets' offense. On the contrary, Paul says he's thrilled with the developments.

He expressed as much to Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni after D'Antoni apologized for taxing Paul with 34 minutes of playing time in Monday's win over the Utah Jazz.

"Thirty-four here is like 25 in L.A.," Paul told D'Antoni, according to ESPN's Zach Lowe. "Not having to dribble the ball up every time - this is a breeze."

It's not a novel concept for Paul. As he pondered leaving the Clippers as a free agent this past offseason, he said he was tired of needing to handle the ball so frequently. Choosing the Rockets appeared to signal his desire for change.

"It's neither here nor there at this point, but I was asking for a while to get the ball out of my hands," he told Lowe.

The Rockets' offense is fast, free-flowing, and improvisational, and Paul insists he doesn't miss the more methodical set plays he used to quarterback with the Clippers.

"How many times have we run floppy this season?" he asked reporters rhetorically after the Jazz game, according to Lowe. "Ze-ro. Zero. We don't even have floppy in the playbook."

In all, Paul's touches per game have come down from 86.2 per game to 69.1, his average number of dribbles per touch from 4.92 to 4.68, and his average time of possession per game from 7.6 minutes to 6.1.

The upshot? He's scoring 1.61 points per possession on spot-ups (good for the 99.4th percentile in the league), and the Rockets have posted a 119.3 offensive rating with him on the floor. It probably won't always be this easy, but for now it seems like a breeze, indeed.