EVEN IN LOSS, GRIFFIN CONTINUES ALL-AROUND TEAR
PORTLAND - There is seemingly very little Clippers superstar Blake Griffin is incapable of lately.
He had a game-high 24 points on 10-for-19 shooting (4-of-5 from the foul line), added 10 assists, eight rebounds and four steals in Saturday night’s 101-100 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
He is the first player this season to have numbers as prolific in all four statistical categories with LeBron James (twice) the only one to do so since the 2010-11 season.
“Blake’s doing it all,” Jamal Crawford said. “He’s scoring, rebounding, assisting, blocking shots. He’s doing everything. He’s doing what All-Stars do. He’s leading us.”
It is the third time this week Griffin has drawn comparisons to James, who has won three of the last four NBA Most Valuable Player awards. Despite somewhat of a down statistical game Thursday after spraining his ankle against the Suns, he’s averaged 23.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 2.3 steals. He’s been efficient and effective and a play-making threat on nearly each offensive possession.
What’s confounding, though, is that Griffin’s sensational individual play has not produced a single victory during the Clippers’ four-game swoon.
Saturday night was as close as they have come, up by nine with 2:38 remaining after rallying from a 14-point deficit, only to come up short as the Blazers closed the game on a 10-0 run.
Griffin certainly led the comeback when the game was tilting in the wrong direction for the Clippers during the opening few minutes of the second quarter. Portland had ridden an 18-7 run to their first of two 14-point leads on the night and a Nicolas Batum 3-pointer had the Rose Garden pulsating. That’s when Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe returned to the game and the Clippers muscled themselves right back into a game that seemed almost lost minutes earlier. They defended, rebounded and reverted to what both Lamar Odom and Bledsoe would have classified as “playing their game.”
Griffin had a hand in 14 of the final 16 points of the period, assisting on four shots, including a 3-pointer from the left wing by Matt Barnes, and scoring five points. The stretch was punctuated by a left-handed dunk on a fast break off a feed from Bledsoe where Griffin caught the ball in full stride, took one step and lifted off from a step and a half inside the free throw line.
The dunk was phenomenal, perhaps one Griffin’s best of the season. But for Griffin, those plays and the all-around numbers of late matter little unless it results in a victory.
“It doesn’t really matter, you know,” Griffin said. “All those things are supposed to help you win and so if you don’t win it does really nothing for your team. I’ve got to do a better job tomorrow.”
He will get another chance at the Trail Blazers Sunday as the Clippers return to Staples Center for the back end of a home-and-home series. It’s hard to imagine, though, what “better” could entail.