RYAN MENEZES | 5/19/12

LOS ANGELES-Blake Griffin winced as he stepped up to the podium, took a seat, and winced again.

Griffin sat on the bench for less than five minutes during Game 3 for the Clippers, hardly revealing any injury or frustration until his stop at the postgame media session. His explosion to start the game helped propel the Clippers to a big lead. He gave the Clippers 43 minutes of playing time on a sprained left knee and sore left ankle, but couldn't sustain his start.

After putting up 20 points in the first half, Griffin was held in check as he labored through the second half, finishing with 28 points and a playoff-high 16 rebounds. It still wasn't enough to beat the Spurs.

"It's very frustrating," Griffin said. "But like I keep saying, everyone's dealing with these things this time of year. We've got to find a way to get through that and be better down the stretch, especially myself. I've got to find a way to help my team more in the third and fourth."

Even a less-than-healthy Griffin was able to exploit the top-seeded Spurs on the offensive end. He made seven of his first eight shots every which way -- dunking, going glass on his jumper, spinning to create space and hustling to grab loose balls for put-backs. In an instant, he surpassed his rebound total from Game 2 (one in 36 minutes).

He took advantage as the Spurs chose to guard him one-on-one early with combination of Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner.

"They came out as we expected," Spurs guard Tony Parker said. "Blake was making crazy shots."

Asked why Griffin slowed down, both he and the Spurs insisted that little changed in their respective game plans. "I just felt like I missed some shots that I didn't in the first half, missed some easy ones," Griffin said.

Though the Clippers as a team stalled, with the Spurs scoring 26 of the first 30 points of the third quarter, Griffin was a big reason L.A. was in the game in the first place.

"I thought we did a good job creating space for him," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "I thought Blake did a good job catching and ripping and making plays for us. I'm more pleased with his rebounding. He was very active with his rebounding, blocking shots. I was happy to see him kind of get loose a little bit. Obviously, he had a very good game."


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