It's why Paul is dragging with a strained right hamstring for 34 minutes even while Rivers seriously considered benching him for good, why Paul devoted his attention to defensively harassing Warriors guard Stephen Curry all night until it was the fourth quarter, when Paul made three of his five baskets on the night.
"It's winning time," Paul said of his shift to scoring mode late in the game.
He hasn't won that many times in the playoffs, with three first-round exits on his ledger.
"I'm tired of going home early," Paul said.
There were more recent memories for the Clippers to shake off. Griffin had to step to the free throw line with 26.4 seconds left, having missed six of his first seven attempts, with the Clippers clinging to a three-point lead. Paul went there 15 seconds later and the lead down to a single point, less than a week after his final two missed free throws cost the Clippers their last chance of winning Game 1.
Both Griffin and Paul made one free throw apiece. It wasn't the epitome of clutch, but it was just enough. Enough to provide the winning margin. Enough to end a dubious losing streak. Enough to generate a little inertia moving forward.
"I just tell them a lot there's no individual stuff until we do team stuff," Rivers said. "We've got to do that. Enough of talking about it."
Warriors fans will be grumbling about the non-call when Paul closed in on Curry's final 3-pointer. They'll harp about the Warriors' woeful 3-point shooting: 6-for-31 in this game. But nothing their vocal cords could do, not even the formidable noise they generate, could deter the Clippers in Game 3.
Neither could the past. Friday was the 20th anniversary of when David Robinson dropped 71 points against the Clippers to snatch the scoring title from Shaquille O'Neal on the final day of the season, bringing back old footage of Robinson scoring at will against the Clippers in a half-empty, run-down Sports Arena.
Old ways don't die easily. Especially when there's a history major from Duke around, as J.J. Redick playfully reminded his teammates during some locker-room banter.
The Clippers did something different Thursday night. They didn't write or erase history, or even guarantee a successful future. Still, it has been a while since their present felt so good.