Point guard Chris Paul's scoring average is down from last season, dipping slightly to 17.0 points from 19.8 last season through the first eight games of 2012-13.

So are his minutes per game, his rebounds and his steals.

Coach Vinny Del Negro didn't sound worried in the least when he spoke about Paul before the Clippers faced the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night at Staples Center.

Del Negro wants Paul to be as aggressive as ever, but he understands times have changed.

The Clippers' depth is one of their many strengths this season, and if they can win without Paul scoring as much as he did in the past, that's OK. Others are there to pick up the slack, creating a balance that means Paul doesn't have to carry the team.

"I think he picks his spots," Del Negro said. "Chris feels the game out. When he needs to score for the team, he's more aggressive. When he can get other guys involved and make plays, Chris is as happy making great passes as he is scoring.

"He's the general out there. He picks his spots."

The final minutes of the third quarter of the Clippers' victory Wednesday over the defending NBA champion Miami Heat were a case in point. Paul ignited what proved to be the game-changing rally by scoring 13 consecutive points late in the period.

He finished with 16 points.