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By Eric Patten @ericpatten | | 2/25/12

Here’s part three of our series of quotes about the Clippers. These come from Western Conference All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki, and Steve Nash.

LaMarcus Aldridge: “They’re up there at the top. I feel like they’ve grown a lot and they’ve definitely gotten better. They’ve added some big pieces, so I feel like they’re definitely up there.”

“I’m more traditional [than Blake Griffin]. I guess you could say I’m more of a back to the basket type of guy. I’m a face-up guy. He [Griffin] is more explosive, a little more athletic, so we’re very different.”

Kevin Love: “Blake and I have been good friends since high school. Obviously, when you step on the court a lot changes, so that’s thrown out the window. He continues to improve on his game. He’s a star in this league, superstar in this league, and he’s tough to go against because he plays so hard.

“I think with this new wave of players that are coming into the league, players like [Russell] Westbrook, [Derrick] Rose, [Kevin] Durant, and Blake, and myself and many others included, I feel like those guys just play hard. And

Blake’s right up there in the upper echelon with those players.”

Dirk Nowitzki: “There are a lot of good teams out there that have a chance and [the Clippers] are definitely one of them. You know, Chauncey [Billups] being out, obviously hurt them. I’m a huge Chauncey fan. He’s a big-time player. They’ve still got a lot of play makers and they’re stacked and they’ve got a great chance.”

Steve Nash: “[Blake’s] game has grown. He’s one of the most exciting and one of the most talented young players we have. And he’s going to be a cornerstone for his team and this league for the next decade.”

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By Eric Patten @ericpatten | | 2/25/12

When Jam Session opened Saturday morning at the Orange County Convention Center, thousands of fans waited to meet Blake Griffin.

The line weaved around several stanchions and extended beyond a large curtain to the edge of the convention hall. Griffin, wearing gray sweatpants and a white t-shirt with a black Nike swoosh, was scheduled to make an hour long appearance and spent nearly all of it shaking hands, posing for pictures, and autographing action shots from a recent home game against Memphis.

After Griffin was done signing, he was photographed next to a special edition Kia Optima that was painted to look like a basketball.

Click here to see more photos from the event
Among those waiting were young fans Antany and Dewayne, who were still about 150 people away from their autograph.Dewayne said he was interested in meeting Griffin because of his athletic ability and as his brother continued talking, Antany quickly interrupted and said, “And his dunks.” Antany and Dewayne said their favorite Griffin dunk from the night before was his right-handed slam off the backboard.

Another fan named Stefan, who was wearing a red Griffin jersey, agreed with Dewayne and Antany. Asked what he liked about the second-year All-Star, Stefan simply said, “Everything.” “He’s so athletic and dunks… all the time.”

While Antany, Dewayne, and Stefan were still waiting in line, Kathryn from Orlando had just made it through. She had two pictures of Griffin with her, including a headshot with the words “WOW’ next to it that could have easily been mistaken for a poster inside “Tiger Beat” magazine. Kathryn also had what amounted to a monologue about getting to me her favorite player.

“I’m here today to see Blake Griffin, my all-time favorite basketball player,” Kathryn said. “The only reason I even like basketball is because he’s super awesome and funny.”

She continued, saying, “It’s so cool [to meet him] and we’ve been up since 5 o’clock in the morning to get a ride here and we ended up having to rent a car.”

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By Eric Patten @ericpatten | | 2/24/12

Here’s part two of our series of quotes about the Clippers. These come from second-year big men Greg Monroe and Derrick Favors and rookie guard and NCAA Champion Kemba Walker following Friday night’s Rising Stars Challenge:

Greg Monroe: “[Blake] is the highest of the young players right now. You have to put him in the elite players. He’s starting on Sunday. You see how far he’s come in two years. And I know he was hurt his first year, but from last year to this year, you’ve seen the progress. He definitely deserves everything he gets. He’s put in the work. I mean, the sky’s the limit for him and he’s only going to get better because of his work ethic and I’m looking forward to seeing it.”

Derrick Favors: “All these guys talk about Blake. You’ve really got to be ready to play because you know he’s coming out playing.”

Kemba Walker: “There’s a lot of great point guards in this league and we’re all striving to be the best…”

“The one that stands out the most is probably Chris Paul. You know, he’s just so patient. He never gets rattled. He just understands the game so well.”

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By Eric Patten @ericpatten | | 2/24/12

Throughout the weekend will be talking to players and coaches about the team. Here’s what Eastern Conference All-Stars, Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade, and Derrick Rose had to say.

Dwyane Wade: “It’s only starting [Chris Paul’s impact]. He’s going to make a huge impact on that team. Obviously, he’s there and they’re learning how to win and learning how to be a first-class and winning organization. And they’re going to have those moments when it’s up and down, but that guy right there he’s a general. He’s a floor leader and he’s one of the best point guards that’s probably ever going to put on a jersey. They got a good one in Chris and they should be happy and proud of that.”

“Man, Chris is a great guy. It’s a guy that you know his heart. On the court he’s a different person. He’s an animal. But off the court, he’s fun-loving, big heart, and all about family, all about doing what he can for others. He loves to just smile and enjoy life. That’s why we all get along. That’s why we all hang out because we all love the same things. Chris is one of my best friends and I can’t be more than happy for him. Not only getting married this summer, but getting the opportunity to play in a place that he’s thrilled about being and a place that really loves him and is going to love him for years to come. Hopefully, they take a little while to get real, real, real good, but they’re fast tracking that thing over there in L.A. And I’m happy for him.”

Paul Pierce: “[L.A.’s] a huge market. Both teams have pretty great players and a lot of them are deserving of it. You know, Andrew Bynum was putting in a great year. You obviously know Kobe and know what Chris Paul can do along with Blake Griffin. Even if they weren’t voted on, they probably would have been picked as All-Stars by the coaches as reserves anyway.”

Derrick Rose: “Chris [Paul] is definitely a good player and he fits that team. He’s a leader for that team and that’s something that they need, especially with Chauncey [Billups] being out. And he’s making plays for them. Blake’s just playing great, doing what he can do to score the ball, playing defense. DeAndre’s [Jordan] looking good. When you play with someone like Chris it makes the whole team look good.”

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By Eric Patten @ericpatten | | 2/24/12

ORLANDO–Guinness World Records was on-hand Friday to observe record-setting performances and a couple of failures by the rookies and sophomores at the respective Team Chuck and Team Shaq practices.

Philadelphia 76ers swingman Evan Turner knocked down 14 shots from behind the basket in less than one minute, a record that stood for a little more than 20 minutes.

Following Team Shaq’s practice, Ricky Rubio connected on 18 shots in the same timeframe, besting Turner and becoming the world record holder for “most shots in one minute from behind the backboard.”

Prior to Turner and Rubio’s sharpshooting, players were asked to assemble in teams of five and attempt to make more than 11 shots from beyond halfcourt in less than a minute. Team Chuck’s two five-man groups took 83 shots and made one, but Team Shaq’s players fared much better.

Group one, consisting of Kemba Walker, Landry Fields, Rubio, Brandon Knight, and anchor Blake Griffin made three out of 32 shots. Rubio nailed two, and had a third sail through the net that was waved off after time had expired.

Griffin went 0-for-5. “Yeah, I wanted to make one,” Griffin said. “But it’s all good. It’s just for fun and games.”

Remember to check out our live blog from tonight's BBVA Rising Stars Challenge HERE.

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By Eric Patten @ericpatten | | 2/24/12

Click here to see more photos from practice
ORLANDO–Blake Griffin and the rest of Team Shaq looked to be in slow motion at their practice prior to the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge that takes place Friday night at Amway Center.

“We didn’t do much,” Griffin said. “We kind of just walked around.”

The team went over brief sets, including a couple of back screens that could get Griffin a wide open alley-oop or ten from the point guard-heavy starting lineup. Team Shaq will likely use Knicks’ sensation Jeremy Lin, Timberwolves star Ricky Rubio, Detroit Pistons’ teammates Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe alongside Griffin. Other than the mini walkthrough, the players casually shot around. Griffin took a few 3-pointers, left-handed shots from the elbow, and step-backs from the perimeter. However, despite pleas from the fans inside the Orange County Convention Center, he did not dunk; perhaps saving his best for later in the evening.

A couple hours later, during media availability for Sunday’s All-Star Game, Griffin was asked about playing with such a plethora of great lead guards. The Clippers star said he’s looking forward to “Linsanity” as well as catching a few lobs from Rubio. After the Clippers defeated the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, Griffin joked that he hoped he wouldn’t be “lactose-Lintolerant.”

It didn’t appear so Friday. Backstage before practice he was chatting up his Team Shaq sidekick as they awaited introductions from an on-court hype man.

It’s expected that Griffin will play reduced minutes as compared to the rest of his teammates. He’s the only player on either team in the Rising Stars game to pull double-duty in the big game Sunday.

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By Eric Patten @ericpatten | | 2/24/12

It’s somewhat gloomy and a lot of humid for the first official day of All-Star events in Orlando. A lot of Clippers signage is posted up around town, including a picture of Chris Paul on the front of the Peabody Hotel where we’re staying. This morning we’re heading over to the USA Basketball press conference in a few minutes. It’s a great way to kick off the weekend, considering Paul, Blake Griffin, and Chauncey Billups were among the 20 players selected as final candidates for the London Olympics.

After that we’re going to the Orange County Convention Center to check out the practices for Team Chuck and Team Shaq leading up to tonight’s BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. As much as Griffin took over All-Star Weekend last year in L.A., day one of this year’s festivities may belong to Jeremy Lin. He’s playing alongside Griffin on Team Shaq, but after practice he’s slated for his own media availability session. It should be interesting.

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