GRIFFIN DAZZLES WITH DUNKS & CHEMISTRY WITH PAUL

HOUSTON – The first two baskets of Sunday’s All-Star Game came off feeds from Chris Paul, each pass resulting in something familiar, a Blake Griffin dunk. 

It sent Paul in motion to his first-ever All-Star MVP and set Griffin on his way towards 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting (nine dunks), three rebounds, three assists and two steals in 27 minutes. 

“I had my first two buckets from [Paul] and it’s definitely something that I’m used to,” Griffin said. “You know, it kind of put me at ease.”

Griffin seemed perfectly at ease as the 62nd All-Star game got going. He threw down several highlight-reel jams, perhaps most notably a breakaway dunk after a Kevin Durant steal in the fourth quarter where he threw it off the backboard to himself. 

The dunk delighted the Toyota Center crowd, which built into a crescendo as a Griffin approached the rim. He had a number of lobs from teammates as well, including a play where Paul left his feet and threw a pass to Kobe Bryant on the right side of the rim. As Bryant caught the ball he flipped it to Griffin for an alley-oop on the opposite side of the hoop.

At points in the game, it appeared Eastern Conference defenders would sag to Griffin, something uncharacteristic for an All-Star event. On one play Chris Bosh cut off Griffin’s path to the basket and conceded a fast-break layup by Paul. 

Still, Paul connected with Griffin on five of the 23-year-old’s nine field goals. Paul had 15 assists.

“It’s great because there’s nobody on the court that I’m more familiar with than BG (Griffin),” Paul said. “I think we might have found something tonight that we can take into the second half of the season.”

The connection between Paul and Griffin was present throughout the weekend. They appeared even more connected than last year when Paul had been a member of the Clippers for just over two months. A year later, they are sharing more inside jokes and have an unspoken chemistry on the court. 

Spurs All-Star Tony Parker noticed.

“Since they’ve been together from day one, they keep finding themselves,” Parker said. “They’re a great combination.”

As for Paul, he said that while he has a number of friends playing on both teams, there is something special about sharing All-Star Weekend with Griffin for a second time. 

“Some of these guys are my closest friends like Melo (Carmelo Anthony), Bron (LeBron James), D-Wade (Dwyane Wade) and those guys, Russell Westbrook, KD (Durant), those guys I’m really, really close with,” Paul said. “To do it with them makes it that much more exciting. I think the best part of it though, is being here with Blake. That’s my guy. Out of all these guys here that’s my guy, that’s my teammate and we get to go through this stuff together.”