GRIFFIN’S TOP 5 PLAYS FROM DEC. 3-9
One look at Blake Griffin’s last seven days and it was reasonably apparent he was the Western Conference Player of the Week. The NBA made it official Monday, selecting Griffin for the award for the first time in his career.
He was among the conference leaders in points, rebounds, steals and field goal percentage, and led the Clippers to a 4-0 record from Dec. 3 to Dec. 9. Griffin’s numbers of 23.0 points per game on 63.9% shooting, 10.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals, were accumulated despite sitting out the fourth quarter of three of the Clippers’ four wins. He averaged just under 31 minutes per game during the week.
On Monday, Dec. 3 Griffin helped lead a come-from-behind road victory over the Utah Jazz, smirching Utah’s previously perfect record at home this season, and scoring a season-high 30 points. Two days later, against the Dallas Mavericks, he tallied 19 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in 28 minutes. In a pair of afternoon games over the weekend, Griffin continued a string of dominance, totaling 43 points, 17 rebounds, eight assists and seven steals in wins over the Suns and Raptors.
Of course, a big statistical week from Griffin would not be complete without a requisite number of acrobatics at the rim and highlight plays. Here are five of his most memorable moments from Dec. 3-9:
5. LEFTY GROOVE
Twice during the week, Griffin went to his left hand for a massive highlight. Former Clippers center Chris Kaman spent the 2010-11 season watching Griffin’s Rookie of the Year performance night in and night out, so when the 10-year veteran saw Griffin catch the ball in the so-called launching pad zone on the left side of the rim he avoided a fate reserved for Kendrick Perkins and Timofey Mozgov by simply getting out of the way.
Three days later, Griffin went to the left and came down the center of the lane for a slam on Marcin Gortat, who was dunked on by Griffin in 2011 in perhaps the greatest dunk that didn’t count of all time when Griffin was whistled for an offensive foul.
4. EVERY DAY I’M HUSTLING
While Griffin is obviously known for his highlight dunks, he can also make spectacular plays throwing his body to the floor. He did so against the Suns, diving to track down a loose ball. But it was not that simple. After his initial dive, the ball squirted away and towards Goran Dragic, Griffin ripped it away, contorted his body and made a pass from his backside to Chris Paul for an open 3-pointer.
3. UNSTOPPABLE TRAIN
An outlet pass from a point guard to a power forward is not supposed to look like this. Paul grabbed the ball on the Raptors end of the court kicked it a few feet ahead to Griffin, who did the rest. He dribbled down the center of the floor like a bullet train that Andrea Bargnani clearly wanted no part in stopping. Griffin finished with a high-flying flush as part of his 12-point first quarter.
2. PROTECT YOUR NECK
Linas Kleiza may have gotten what was coming to him. Two possessions after the veteran forward was assessed a technical foul during a box-out of Griffin on a DeAndre Jordan free-throw attempt Griffin came swooping in for a viscous follow dunk. Paul pushed the ball ahead on the break, only to miss an awkward runner in the lane. Kleiza stood unknowingly under the hoop waiting for the carom when Griffin grabbed it above the rim and dunked it with two hands.
1. UP AND AWAY
Because of his past work, this alley-oop catch and dunk by Griffin will likely be ho-hummed away. But the catch is something to marvel at. Paul lofted the ball up a little too far ahead of Griffin after the give-and-go, but Griffin caught it with his left arm out-stretched and sort of guided the ball towards the rim before the slam.