GRIFFIN HAS DAZZLING FIRST QUARTER IN ALL-STAR GAME

NEW ORLEANS – It seemed appropriate that Blake Griffin would start the 2014 All-Star Game in the same unequivocal fashion he has played for the Clippers lately.

He scored 18 points in 10:48, including a nearly six-minute stretch where either he or Kevin Durant scored every point for the West in Sunday’s 163-155 loss.

It was two points shy of matching Glen Rice’s All-Star Game record of 20 points in a quarter, set in 1997. But Rice’s barrage came by way of his trademark 3-point shot. Griffin’s came via him playing near the catwalk in Smoothie King Center.

He converted eight dunks, including four lobs in the first quarter, going 9-for-11 from the field. The nine makes broke Rice’s and Dave DeBusschere’s previous record of eight. His only misses were on a follow dunk attempt in the opening seconds and an open 3-pointer from the wing.

“I was just trying to find their weak spots and get to the rim,” Griffin said.

Griffin’s no stranger to fast starts. He’s the league’s fifth leading scorer in the first quarter, averaging 7.4 points in 55 games for the Clippers. While those games count, Sunday was all about putting on a show, something Griffin does regularly.

“He’s a guy who’s perfect for a game like this,” Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony said. “He is a dunker. He’s a guy who gets the crowd into it. Guys know he’s a crowd pleaser, so they’re going to find him, anything near the rim, near the backboard he’s going to get.”

Griffin caught just about every lob thrown his way Sunday, except a pass James Harden tossed that caromed off the glass about four feet above the rim. He was a star among stars, beating the defense up the floor for dunks like one he received off a feed from Chris Paul where he whirled the ball in a clockwise motion before throwing down a tomahawk slam. He also caught alley-oops from Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant in the first quarter and had one stretch where he converted 14 of the West’s 18 points.

“Man, Blake was unreal,” Paul said of Griffin, who is averaging 21.8 points in four All-Star appearances. “I thought Blake had a shot at getting 50 [points] tonight. I don’t know what happened, but if we win that game right there I think Blake is MVP.”

Griffin finished with 38 points on 19-for-23 shooting, breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 17 made field goals in an All-Star Game. He also had 12 dunks, six coming by way of lobs, as well as three long-range jumpers in the second half.

The long-range shots likely were particularly pleasing for Griffin, who is shooting career-high 39.6 percent from beyond 16 feet this season. However, they weren’t what the crowd came to see and Griffin knew that.

“The game’s for the fans,” he said. “And they don’t really want to see me shooting jump shots.”

Added Anthony: “He knows how to wake a crowd up and he did that tonight.”

Particularly in the first quarter.