LOS ANGELES – There was no question in Blake Griffin’s mind he was going to play Saturday.
Griffin fought through a stomach bug that hit him last night and left him winded throughout the game and with a towel over his bobbed head on the bench in the third quarter. It looked like his night might be done, but he came back out in the fourth quarter to help hold off the Trail Blazers in a 106-102 victory.
“It was an amazing effort,” said guard Chris Paul. “B looked like he was about to die at halftime. He was laid out in there, but it shows how selfless he is, sacrificing for the team. Any time he could have said, ‘I ain’t got it fellas,’ and we would have tried to pull it out for him. But he didn’t want to come out.”
It’s always nice when one of your key guys decides, ‘You know what, I’m going to suit up anyway. I don’t know what I have and I’m not worried if I don’t play well. I’m just going to help my team any way I can,’ and that’s what he did.-Doc Rivers on Blake Griffin
Griffin started laughing when rehashing a story from this morning, when the possibility of not playing apparently crossed a few other peoples’ minds. He said that was never an option.
“I saw our team doctor this morning and he asked me if I wanted to sit out,” Griffin said. “I looked at him like he was crazy.”
Griffin finished the game with 23 points and six rebounds, but it wasn’t about the stat line to his teammates or his head coach.
“There are times when you’re sick and you can’t play, then there are times when you’re sick and you can play,” said Doc Rivers. “It’s always nice when one of your key guys decides, ‘You know what, I’m going to suit up anyway. I don’t know what I have and I’m not worried if I don’t play well. I’m just going to help my team any way I can,’ and that’s what he did.”
The Clippers came into the game after getting trounced in Golden State and needed a boost. They got it from Griffin’s effort and from J.J. Redick’s season-high 30-point performance.
Paul said Griffin playing Saturday was huge, because it forced everyone else to try to lift him up and help him out. Griffin, Paul, Redick and Jamal Crawford each finished the game with more than 20 points apiece.
Rivers said he was proud of Griffin, because he didn’t see him playing in the game that much. He ended up playing 35 minutes, which didn’t surprise any of his teammates.
“A guy like B, he’s just competitive,” Paul said. “Doc was about to take him out one time and he was like, ‘No! No.’ Without him, we don’t win this game.”
The Clippers made up a nine-point halftime deficit to capture the victory that sent them to 4-2.
Paul, who finished with 22 points, 11 assists and no turnovers, came up with three straight buckets in the fourth quarter to help get the Clippers a 102-93 lead late. The Blazers then scored seven straight points, but help on the offensive glass from DeAndre Jordan and late free throws from Paul and Crawford sealed off the win.
It wasn’t just offensively that Jordan helped out late. Rivers said the Clippers won the game because of Jordan’s greatness defensively.
The Clippers allowed 62 points in the first half after getting called out for a lack of effort defensively following the loss to the Warriors, but they buckled down in the second half and allowed just 40 points the rest of the way. The Blazers had 18 second-chance points in the first half and only put up two in the second half.
“We just needed to get stops,” Jordan said. “Early on in the first quarter, we let them get too many points to start the game and their offense got going. We know we can control our defense, how hard we play and how hard we compete.”
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