Notebook: Griffin’s Long-Range Triple-Double, Paul Update, More
TORONTO – Blake Griffin only took two 3-pointers in his first five games back from surgery, and his head coach wanted that to change.
So, Doc Rivers sent Griffin a text before Monday night’s game.
“I want you start taking more 3s,” Griffin recalled the text stating. “I took it literally.”
Griffin finished 2-for-3 from behind the arc against the Raptors, marking the sixth time in his career and first time this season he hit multiple 3-pointers in a game, on his way to his fifth career triple-double and first since April 2014.
“He played great,” Rivers said. “You get Blake back, and you see him coming. You can just see his timing getting better, you can see all the guys figuring out how to play with him now, because they played a long time without him, too.”
Despite the loss, Griffin did everything he could offensively to give the Clippers a chance, compiling 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists by halftime, already well on his way to the triple-double.
By the end of the third quarter, he had it.
Griffin finished the night with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, giving him his fifth straight 20-point game in his sixth game back from knee surgery.
“Guys were just hitting shots, especially early,” Griffin said. “At times, our offense was good. We moved the ball, guys knocked down shots, but you can’t do that without your teammates hitting shots, and they were good tonight.”
The Clippers scored 109 points in the loss and knocked down 13 3-pointers, marking the fifth time in their last six games they scored at least 100 points. They just couldn’t stop Toronto’s attack in a third straight loss.
Griffin said he still felt fine physically after the back-to-back, and it looked that way Monday night. Griffin added to what’s already been a stellar start offensively to February, entering the night averaging 27.7 points and eight rebounds per game.
“That’s the encouraging thing,” Rivers said. “Even the fact that he looked to shoot 3s today – he hadn’t done that since he’s been back. He’s comfortable. I got on him on one for not taking one that I thought he should have. All that is good. There’s a lot of good happening, but we just can’t win games right now. We’ve got to find a way to win games.”
Paul recovering well
Rivers hopes the time on the floor the other guards are getting will benefit the Clippers in the long run, but they’d obviously rather have Chris Paul on the floor, particularly as the recent skid continues.
Paul continues to improve back in Los Angeles, and Rivers said Paul is already capable of doing everything other than taking contact following his left thumb surgery.
“He’s playing,” Rivers said. “If you watched him, you’d say, ‘Why isn’t he playing tonight?”
Paul’s still only halfway through his initial six-to-eight-week recovery timeframe, and despite how Paul looks on the court, Rivers said he doesn’t think the initial timeframe has changed.
“If there’s ever a silver lining to getting injured, it’s nice when you get injured and it’s not leg or feet, where you can run and shoot and do all this other stuff, and he’s able to do that,” Rivers said. “He’s shooting, running, doing every drill. He’s running offense by himself – I’m sure he scores every time. But he’s in the gym every day with our guys.”
Rivers said before the various injuries the Clippers sustained this year – particularly the ones that kept Griffin and Paul out for significant time – playoff seeding was important. Now, it’s more about being as ready as possible once the playoffs arrive, regardless of where they’re at in the Western Conference.
The hope is the time off will allow Paul to be fresh going into the playoffs, and will give Austin Rivers and Raymond Felton more experience in the meantime.
“Obviously, you’d rather have home court,” Rivers said. “But, when we’re playing well, I don’t think this group cares where they’re playing. So, that’s my thought.”
More Crawford Milestones
The milestones poured in Monday night for Jamal Crawford, beginning with his 2,000th career 3-pointer, putting him in a class of just six players ever to reach the mark.
Crawford also passed Eddie Johnson for No. 2 all-time in bench scoring, but the one that meant the most to him was moving past one of his favorite players ever, Magic Johnson, on his way to the No. 74 spot all-time in scoring.
“That’s unbelievable,” said Crawford, who scored 14 points off the bench. “But I’m not going to acknowledge it until we get a win.”