Blake Griffin played only 19 minutes and 14 seconds in the Clippers’ 109-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Saturday’s opener of their first-round Western Conference playoff series at Staples Center.
Griffin scored 16 points and grabbed three rebounds – well below his season averages – and his defense in the paint was missed, to be sure. That has to change, guard J.J. Redick said.
“I mean, he’s one of the best players in the NBA, so that was huge for us to not have him over half the game, really,” said Redick, who had a fine game with 22 points on 8 of 11 shooting. “We need him to stay on the court, we need him to play 40 minutes and be involved. He’s made such progress on both sides of the basketball, he’s such an important piece of what we do.”
From NBA Clutch Time, here’s more than 11 minutes of Blake Griffin highlights from the regular season. Enjoy.
In one season, Doc Rivers has helped transformed the Clippers into one of the best teams in the NBA. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)
With the Clippers in the playoffs, the players — among others — are lauding Doc Rivers.
“He just makes you want to run through a brick wall for him. That’s what he puts in everybody. And it’s not just because the way he talks, it’s how he looks at you in the eyes so you know that it’s something that he really believes in.”
“He’s, to me, probably one of the most competitive persons in the league.”
“Every time he speaks during practice, for me it’s a learning experience…”
Read the full story here: “Doc Rivers gets universal praise for Clippers leadership“
The technical foul issued Blake Griffin during the second quarter of Tuesday’s victory over the visiting Denver Nuggets has been upheld by Rod Thorn, president of basketball operations for the NBA, according to NBA.com.
It was Griffin’s 16th technical of the season, meaning he must serve a one-game suspension without pay when the team visits Portland in Wednesday’s regular-season finale.
The technical occurred when Griffin was guarding Denver’s Timofey Mozgov. Mozgov was driving to the basket and as he was about to shoot Griffin raked the ball out of his hands, Griffin’s hand scraping the face of Mozgov with the follow-through.
Other than the cash, the suspension is moot because Griffin wasn’t going to play Wednesday anyway. Coach Doc Rivers told reporters in Tuesday’s post-game news conference he had already decided to hold Griffin and J.J. Redick back from the trip.
- It was of course great to see Jamal Crawford back out there. Even better was that he hit two clutch 3-point baskets to help his team pull away for the 117-101 victory over a poor yet stubborn Kings team on Saturday.
- Yes, it was the franchise-tying 56th victory of the season for the Clippers. That’s all good, but that won’t mean much of the Clippers don’t advance past the first round of the playoffs.
- Unless something weird happens, DeAndre Jordan is about a lock to finish as the NBA’s regular-season leader in field goal percentage and rebounding. He is currently averaging 13.7 rebounds, ahead of second-place Andre Drummond of Detroit (13.2). With his 9-for-13 performance against the Kings, he’s now shooting 67.5 percent from the field; Drummond is second at 62.5. Only two other players have ever led the league in both categories – Wilt Chamberlain (8 times) and Dwight Howard.
- That said, Jordan needs to improve his free-throw shooting. That’s not news. But he was just 3 of 11 against the Kings, dropping his season average to 43.4 percent. It’s true that he was even worse last season – 38.6 percent – but still, he’s gotta get better there. He’s shooting 42.7 percent in his six years in the league.
- We say this a lot, but man oh man, you have got to love the way Blake Griffin plays. The man is a beast, but he’s also become a great passer. He had nine assists against the Kings, and some of them were beautiful things to see.
Saturday’s game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center was interesting in that the visitors from up north came in with a record of 27-52 with, obviously, no playoffs in their immediate future.
Yet the Kings really made the Clippers work for the 117-101 victory. With 8:55 left in the game, the Clippers (56-24) held just a two-point lead at 91-89. One contributor is apparently a matchup situation. Their terrible record notwithstanding, the Kings played the Clippers tough all four games. The Clippers won the other three by just nine, one and six points.
Also, the Clippers are anxious for the playoffs to begin.
“You know, it’s interesting, certain games are a little tougher than others just because one team may not be playing for anything and another team might, but it’s a necessary thing,” Blake Griffin said. “You’ve got to play whole schedule and all that, but it would kind of be nice to start the playoffs when you’re ready.”
Coach Doc Rivers on Wednesday night was asked about the MVP race. His reply was only partially surprising.
“I think (Kevin) Durant’s had the best year,” Rivers said of the Oklahoma City star. “I still think LeBron (James) is the best player in the NBA, but I think Durant has had an MVP year. I really believe that. I don’t know who has had a better year. And I honestly think Blake would be right behind him, in my opinion, but I don’t think I have a vote.”
Blake Griffin could finish third in the voting, but Durant and James figure to be first and second one way or the other.
Blake Griffin is having the best season of his career overall, and that has not gone unnoticed by Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks, who could not say enough about Griffin prior to Wednesday night’s game between the Clippers and Thunder won by the Thunder 107-101.
“Oh, he’s developed every year,” Brooks said. “It’s amazing that he continues to develop at the high level he’s played at the last couple of years. He’s gotten better this year, scoring 24, 25 points a game, and 10 rebounds. His outside shot has improved, his free throws have improved, his playmaking has improved. He’s just a great player, he’s going to go down as one of the best power forwards in the game the way he plays. He plays hard, he gets rebounds, he defends.”
Griffin is averaging a career-high 24.1 points. He’s averaging 9.6 rebounds. His best in that department was 12.1 in his rookie season in 2010-11, but back then DeAndre Jordan was not averaging nearly 14 rebounds like he is now, so he has taken some of those away from Griffin. Griffin is also shooting 71 percent from the free-throw line, a career-best.
Coach Doc Rivers and the rest of the Clippers must be stoked about how well J.J. Redick is looking. After not having played for two months, he scored 15 points on 7 of 11 shooting in 24 minutes in his second game back. A bulging disc in Redick’s back has been the issue, but he did not look like someone with back issues Sunday. The Clippers really need him healthy for the playoffs.
- As good as that news is, there was still no Jamal Crawford, out for the fourth consecutive game because of an ongoing calf injury. Rivers told reporters before the game it would be a bummer if Crawford could not play again until the playoffs. But it’s looking like that is a real possibility.
- How about that game by Chris Paul. He scored 23 points and doled out six assists, which is actually lower than his average. But he made 8 of 10 from the field, including all four of his attempts from 3-point range.
- Blake Griffin had a fine game with 23 points on 7 of 14 shooting with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Interestingly, only one of his seven baskets came from any kind of distance, where most of misses came from. He hit one outside jumper and that was it. After missing three in a row at one juncture, his body language displayed a bit of frustration. But, hey, the good ones still find a way to have good games, which is what Griffin did.
- With this victory, by the end of Sunday night the Clippers had crawled to within a game of Oklahoma City in the Western Conference standings because of the Thunder’s loss to Phoenix. The Clippers (55-23) and OKC (55-21) square off Wednesday at staples Center. The Clippers have four games left, the Thunder six.
- Not to worry, Clippers fans, the law of averages says they absolutely must lose a game now and then. The Clippers had won 17 of their past 19 games, some in dramatic fashion. They can’t do it every night. Doesn’t work that way. Coach Doc Rivers said he wasn’t worried about it, and neither should the fans be concerned over one home loss. At 31-6, they still have one of the best home records in the league. That said, down 12 with three minutes left, the Clippers scared the heck out of Dallas by getting within two points with more than a minute left before the Mavericks escaped with the win.
- It was good to see guard J.J. Redick back playing exactly two months since he had last played Feb. 3, no thanks to a bulging disc in his back. Rivers said before the game he’d play Redick about 20 minutes or so, and Redick played 24 minutes and scored 12 points. He made just 3 of 10 from the field, but that’s to be expected after so much time off. He appeared healthy, which is the best thing of all.
- Blake Griffin has become a terrific passer. He had 11 assists in the game, a number more expected of Chris Paul, who had nine. The recipient of some of Griffin’s assists was DeAndre Jordan, who said thank you very much and slammed a few home.
- It’s a bummer that Jamal Crawford missed his third consecutive game because of that pesky injured calf. He was seen before the game and though he wasn’t noticeably limping, he didn’t seem to be walking with confidence, either. The Clippers will really need him for the playoffs because you don’t just replace 18.6 points per game, Crawford’s average.
- The worst thing a coach can do is play the diplomat after a loss because that doesn’t help his players a bit. Rivers said in the post-game news conference that his team played poorly on defense. And he’s right. There were way too many open looks, thus the Mavericks’ 48.3 percentage (14 of 29) from 3-point range. Right there is where the game was decided. The Clippers made just 6 of 27 from beyond the arc for 22.7 percent.
Next up, the Lakers on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.