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Nets Notes: Blake Griffin Makes Brooklyn Debut

Nets plus-12 in Griffin's 15 minutes on court in win over Washington

Blake Griffin covered the bases from subtle to spectacular in his Brooklyn Nets debut on Sunday night.

Cover the highlight clip first, with Griffin’s first points as a Net coming on a get-out-of-the-way two-handed dunk with Griffin flying down the center of the lane in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Adding to the notoriety of the slam was that it happened to be the first since December 2019 for one-time Lob City finisher.

“It felt great,” said Griffin. “I knew once it happened it was going to be it was going to be a thing. And so I tried not to look at the bench when I was coming back down. But then I kind of peeked over and I saw DeAndre (Jordan) all the way out on the side, and I saw everybody standing up. So it's hard not to smile in that situation. But it felt good to just get that out of the way and move on.”

The dunk turned out to be Griffin’s only points in Brooklyn’s 113-106 win over the Washington Wizards, but the Nets were still plus-12 in his 15 minutes on the floor, a team-high.

“First game, he looked comfortable,” said James Harden. “We tried to get him shots and tried to get him involved. Blake is going to be very key for us just because he’s versatile, he creates mismatch problems and he’s a very good passer. Once we find sets that can incorporate him and that he can look for consistently and he can be prepared for, then, we’ll be that much better. But I think for his first game just learning on the fly without really any practice time, he did a good job.”

Griffin entered the game for the first time with 4:37 remaining in the first quarter and the Nets down 25-14, having started to chip away from an early 14-point hole. They immediately scored eight straight, and when Griffin came back out three minutes into the second quarter, Brooklyn led 34-30 with a lead it would never relinquish.

The Nets began the second quarter with Griffin teamed with Nic Claxton in the frontcourt, plus guard Tyler Johnson and the usual mix of starters Harden and Joe Harris working with a second-unit group at that point in the game.

“Blake’s an intelligent player. He can space the floor,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “You have to guard him at 3. He’s a good playmaker with the ball, so he can play off of Nic rolling, or he can be the guy rolling and playmaking. He’s a versatile player, intelligent player, brings experience to our team, so hopefully he can play in multiple lineups.”

Griffin wasn’t worried about reading too much into anything on Sunday night. His emphasis was just getting out on the floor in a game situation for the first time in a month. He’s looking forward letting his role and his minutes grow.

“I think I can play more than 15 for sure,” said Griffin. “I think we're just being very smart about it when there's no need to come in and play 30 right away. I thought our performance staff has done a great job so far. And I'm following their lead on this, and whatever they say, hopefully, I get to play a little bit more soon. But I understand the importance of listening to them and being ready when we really need it.”

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