GRIFFIN POSTS HISTORIC NUMBERS IN LOSS
OAKLAND – Blake Griffin joined a select list Monday.
Despite the Clippers falling to the Golden State Warriors, 106-99, the recently named All-Star starter put together the kind of all-around dominance that since 2001 has only been reserved for three-time MVP LeBron James.
Griffin scored 26 points with 13 rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocks. No player other than James has compiled such prolific statistical numbers in a single game since Shaquille O’Neal a dozen years ago. There have been just 23 such instances in the league sine 1985-86.
James has done it three times since O’Neal, but despite gaudy nightly numbers, the Miami Heat star has yet to exceed those numbers in 2012-13. That’s a feat for Griffin alone.
Chris Paul, who was slowed for much of Monday’s game by a bone bruise in his right kneecap, succinctly summed up Griffin’s effort. “We are not even as close as we were without Blake,” he said.
“Blake was aggressive the whole game,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We were trying to get [Stephen] Curry in foul trouble which we did and David Lee. We couldn’t convert on that stuff, but Blake set the tone for us the whole game. He was aggressive. We went to him a lot. He produced. We just weren’t able to convert down the stretch.”
Griffin, however, made a pair of baskets during a key stretch in the fourth quarter, lofting a left-handed jump hook over Carl Landry and another on the next possession, powering through Lee for a right-handed jump hook. Those baskets tied the game at 90 and after getting a defensive rebound on the other end, Griffin found Jamal Crawford for a 3-pointer from straightaway, putting L.A. up 93-90.
The Warriors, of course, withstood the charge and finished by scoring 16 of the final 22 points, but it was not for lack of Griffin.
It was clear from the opening minutes that he was intent on bouncing back from a season-worst 5-for-18 shooting performance two days earlier. And while a game ago it seemed like Griffin couldn’t find the bottom of the net, against Golden State he seemingly couldn’t miss it.
In the first half he scored 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting, but it was more than his ability to fill up the basket with spinning layups, dunks, perimeter jumpers and the like. As he has done perhaps more so than ever before over the last five games, Griffin acted as a facilitator, the focal point of the offense.
He has 33 assists (5.5 per game) since Jan. 12 against Orlando. On Monday he found Willie Green for a layup cutting to the rim after an offensive rebound. He drove and kicked out to Caron Butler for a 3-pointer. He battled for position with Festus Ezeli, Andris Biedrins, Lee, whomever the Warriors threw at him. He rebounded, defended Lee, who played despite being listed as questionable with a gimpy ankle, without committing a foul and affected the game in nearly every way imaginable.
It was the kind of performance that even in a loss was fit for a king.