Chris Paul had called the game a "must-win," which sounded like an overstatement considering it was just one of 82 the Clippers play this season and it's still December.

But Paul played like it was the most important game of the season, putting on a show with moves that left the crowd cheering everything he did in directing the Clippers to a 113-97 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night at the Verizon Center.

Paul finished with 38 points, making 11 of his 14 shots and five of his seven three-point attempts. He also had 12 assists, three rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes 49 seconds of efficient basketball. He was 11 for 11 from the free-throw line.

Paul became the ninth player in NBA history since the 1985-86 season to score at least 38 points on 14 or fewer shot attempts.

He had made his "must-win" statement after the Clippers lost at Brooklyn on Thursday night because he wanted the L.A. team to finish its seven-game, 13-day trip feeling "decent" about it.

And the Clippers followed through, going 4-3 during their time away.

"We wanted to try to turn this from an OK trip into a good trip," Paul said. "We just wanted to win the game. That's what we went with, the mentality was win the game.

"It's a lot of factors too. It's a long flight back home. And we've got a lot of sore losers on this team. So we just wanted to come out and play the right way. I think we did for the most part."

Paul had plenty of help from his starting mates, all of whom scored in double figures.

The Clippers made a change to their starting lineup, inserting Jamal Crawford at shooting guard in place of Willie Green, who had started the last seven games in place of the injured J.J. Redick (broken right hand, torn ligaments on right side of wrist).