December 1, 2023

Golden State Warriors guard Chris Paul came off of the bench for the first time in his 19-season career in the Warriors’ 106-95 win over the host Houston Rockets on Sunday.

Paul had started 1,365 career games, which includes the playoffs and the regular season. Since 1970-71, that’s the most consecutive starts to begin a career prior to coming off the bench for the first time, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“It’s whatever I’ve got to do to help our team win,” Paul said. “So if that means this, if it means not finishing some games or whatnot, you know, if you get a chance to play long enough in your career, there’s things that’s going to change, there’s things that’s going to be different and I’m here.”

After checking in with 6:58 left in the first quarter, Paul was plus-8 for the rest of the period, going scoreless but dishing three assists. He was plus-22 in his 27 minutes, finishing with eight points on 3-of-8 shooting, seven assists, five rebounds and one steal.

His sixth-man role was prompted by Draymond Green (ankle) making his season debut after missing the Warriors’ first two regular-season games. Green had four points in 21 minutes.

In the bench unit’s first stint — and the first eight-and-a-half-minute spurt without Stephen Curry — it brought the Warriors back from trailing by three to leading by 13 on Sunday. Building, or even just maintaining, any lead or close game was a rarity when Curry was on the bench last season.

Last week, a team source told ESPN that regardless of if Paul is a starter or a reserve, he will play most of his minutes with the second unit.

“It was definitely different,” Paul said of coming off the bench. “But at the end of the day it’s basketball.”

Golden State coach Steve Kerr praised Paul’s selflessness to come off the bench.

“It’s massive the way Chris has embraced everything,” he said. “He just nodded his head and said: ‘Let’s go get ’em.’ Not ever a big deal. When a vet, great player, All-Star shows that kind of sacrifice it just sets the tone for the whole team.”

With Paul’s streak over, the Milwaukee BucksDamian Lillard — who played in his 833rd career game Sunday night — has more starts than any other active player without an appearance as a reserve. The Dallas MavericksKyrie Irving is next on that list, with all of his 748 NBA appearances being starts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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