Blake Griffin of the Clippers goes for a loose ball during the Clippers’ 114-109 victory over Washington on Sunday at Staples Center. It was Griffin’s first game back after missing the previous 45/Staff photo by David Crane
– Blake Griffin returned after missing 45 games because of two injuries and a four-game suspension. He scored six points on 2 of 7 shooting in 24 1/2 minutes. He also grabbed five rebounds and doled out four assists and had a hard time handling a couple of passes. He was rusty, but that was to be expected. He at times became frustrated, which was also expected because he’s very hard on himself. He had a couple of fine moments, like when he caught a lob pass from Chris Paul in the first quarter and threw down a dunk. He had a behind-the-back pass to Paul in transition in the third quarter, the ball then ending up in the hands of J.J. Redick, who buried a corner 3-ball.
– One of the prettiest plays of the game came when Jamal Crawford hit DeAndre Jordan with a lob with 57.7 seconds left to play. Jordan was farther out than usual, so he had to throw down what can be best described as a long, monstrous dunk for a 110-104 lead. The two were talking about the play in the locker room afterward. They were stoked, to say the least.
– Nice game by Chris Paul. The point guard, who suddenly had Griffin back on the court with him, doled out 12 assists to go with his 27 points on 10 of 19 shooting. Griffin only made two baskets, and Paul had the assists of both of them. Paul scored 10 of his points during the all-important fourth quarter.
– Sixth-man Jamal Crawford is averaging 13.9 points on the season. But Crawford, 35, is averaging 18.0 points over the past five games. He scored 19 in this one on 6 of 12 shooting – 4 of 7 from 3-point range. Nine of those points came when they counted most, in the fourth quarter when the Clippers were holding off a Wizards team trying desperately to remain in the hunt for an Eastern Conference playoff berth. Crawford made 3 of 4 from the field in the quarter, all from 3-point range. He also had three of his six assists. It was terrific work for just over 25 minutes of play.
– The Wizards shot a respectful 45.7 percent from the field. But their guards – Bradley Beal and John Wall – combined to shoot 7 of 30 (23.3 percent). Beal shot 2 of 16, Wall 5 of 14. Some of that was good defense, some of it was just poor shooting. “We missed a lot of good looks, but we stuck with it,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “I felt pretty good about the shots we missed, and I knew if we kept getting those shots in the second half that we could make a game of it.” Washington did just that, eventually pulling to as close as three points (110-107) with with 47.4 seconds to play after trailing by 12 (104-92) with 3:47 left.
BONUS TAKE: The Clippers (48-28) clinched homecourt advantage for the first round of the playoffs with this victory.