CHRIS PAUL AND BLAKE GRIFFIN CAP ALL-STAR WEEKEND BY CLOSING OUT EAST
Eric Patten @ericpatten | 2/26/12

ORLANDO–It was the fast break of basketball dreams, Chris Paul with the ball in the middle of the floor, flanked by Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant with Blake Griffin close behind.

Paul pushed the ball into the middle of the lane with his defender, Luol Deng, backpedalling. In one motion, he dropped a right-handed bounce pass between his legs to Griffin and as Paul’s regular-season teammate so often does, he completed a spectacular dunk.

“[Paul] just got a fast break and I let him know that I was behind him,” Griffin said. “And he did what he does.”

On a night chalk full of players doing their thing, the Clippers duo were exactly who they’re expected to be: Paul the creator, Griffin the tremendous finisher.


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Paul finished with eight points, 12 assists, and five rebounds, while Griffin chipped in 22 points on 9-of-12 from the field, including a 3-pointer from the left corner with 0.6 seconds left in the first half. He also had eight rebounds and three assists. On one play, he skied for an offensive rebound over Chris Bosh dribbled out of traffic and rifled a cross-court pass to his buddy Kevin Love for a wing 3-poniter.

Down the stretch Western Conference head coach Scott Brooks utilized Griffin at center with Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook. And as Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony led the East back from a 19-point deficit, it was Griffin that helped keep the East at bay.

He threw down a two-handed put-back on a wild layup attempt by Westbrook in the final minute to preserve a three-point lead. Two possessions later, with the West up two, he stole a kick out pass from James and was intentionally fouled by Deron Williams. He stepped to the line and made the second of two free throws, again, putting the West up by three, this time with 1.1 seconds left.

“It was great just to be in at the end,” Griffin said. “Just to be a part of it–a part of the win. The best part is winning, so I just wanted to be a part of that.”

Paul contributed greatly to the win as well. He surveyed the floor, wrecking his usual havoc by keeping his dribble alive and hit two 3-pointers. He also displayed the connection with Griffin that had been evident earlier in the weekend, making subtle plays as well as the big ones like the highlight pass in transition.

“I think [Chris and I] showed a little bit of our chemistry out there,” Griffin said. “I’m definitely familiar playing with him. It’s fun playing with a guard like that. I get to do it every day, so it was nice to do it in a more relaxed setting.”

Although five of Paul’s 12 assists found Griffin, he managed two of his better feeds to Durant and Westbrook. In the first quarter, Paul bounced the ball off the backboard to Durant after Bryant chucked the lead pass with his back turned to the play. And with 2:06 to go and the game tightening up, Paul found a cutting Westbrook for ferocious one-handed dunk around Magic center Dwight Howard.