GRIFFIN & PAUL ELECTED ALL-STAR STARTERS
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are making this a habit.
On Thursday, the NBA, as part of a pregame special prior to TNT’s telecast of the Clippers-Timberwolves game, announced Paul and Griffin will start the 2013 All-Star Game in Houston. The game will air Feb. 17 on TNT at 6 p.m. PST.
Paul received 929,155 votes, finishing second among Western Conference guards behind Kobe Bryant, while Griffin was third among front-court players with 863,832 votes. Their election to the 62nd All-Star Game marks just the third time in franchise history that two Clippers have made the team in the same season.
“They deserve it, obviously,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Blake is having a fantastic year. You’ve seen a lot of growth in his game. He’s been one of our leaders and Chris as well. They’re both having fantastic years.
“They’re both well-deserving of it and they’ll represent us very well as usual.”
It is Paul’s sixth All-Star appearance and second starting spot in as many years as a member of the Clippers. Griffin, who has represented the Clippers in the All-Star game in each of his first three seasons, will start for the second year in a row as well. They will be accompanied by Bryant, who narrowly edged LeBron James (1,591,437) as the NBA’s top vote-getter, Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard in the Western Conference starting lineup. The East will be represented by James, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony.
It has been something of a touchstone season for Paul and Griffin in L.A. Through the first 39 games they have guided the Clippers (30-9) to the second best winning percentage in the NBA (.769), a game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder, and put together a franchise-record 17-game winning streak in the process.
Griffin, who is the only player in the league averaging better than 17.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals, was named Western Conference Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 3-9. And Paul, who is the league’s leader in steals per game (2.6) and is second in assists (9.7), won player of the week 14 days later and was named the conference’s player of the month for December.
In past seasons, Paul, who is widely considered the league’s best point guard, has treated the All-Star Game as a canvas for his artistry in assists. He compiled 47 assists in four appearances (he was selected but did not play in the 2010 game due to a left knee injury) and last season flourished with Griffin alongside him.
He connected with his Clippers teammate on five of his 12 assists in the 2012 event, including a bounce pass between his legs to a trailing Griffin on a fast break in the first half. Griffin completed the play with a requisite high-flying, right-handed dunk, which exemplifies what makes the transcendent youngster an annual All-Star game necessity.
Griffin played just 14:39 after being selected by coaches as a reserve in 2011, but followed that with 22 points and eight rebounds in 31:26 a year later in Orlando. Since his debut as a rookie, Griffin has become somewhat of an All-Star luminary. In Los Angeles in 2011, he participated in all three days of festivities, highlighted by his coronation as slam dunk champion. Last year, he scored 10 points in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, his final obligation in All-Star Friday.
In Houston Griffin will only have to worry about Sunday’s main event. And for the second-straight year, he’ll have Paul there with him.