Blake Griffin

Two birds with one stone, not that the playoff aspirations of the Cleveland Cavaliers mean anything to the Los Angeles Clippers. Still, from a sport’s fan view, it’s always nice to spoil things and see others suffer, while Blake Griffin has himself a very happy birthday performance, showing once again just how much of an all-around player he has become.

The Clippers beat the Cavs 102-80, as Kyrie Irving left the game early with a bicep injury that might keep him out for more than just three quarters on the West Coast. Blake Griffin led seven Clippers players in double figures with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists, as the Clippers jumped to an early lead and carried on quite swiftly from there.

The Clippers didn’t really need accuracy or efficiency when the team in front of them looked so struggling to find a way and score a basket or even create a good shot for themselves. Irving is the only player with that ability on the Cavs, and Luol Deng scoring 23 points didn’t really help out.

Chris Paul had 16 points to go with his 15 assists, while DeAndre Jordan just dunked himself senseless with a 15 points, 11 rebounds double double for himself. Matt Barnes with 11 points, Darren Collison with 10, Reggie Bullock with 14 points and Danny Granger with 11, the last two players coming off the bench, completed the quite long list of high scorers for the Clippers in a breeze of a game.

Bullock was also celebrating his birthday (the rookie turned 23), so it might not have been such a huge surprise to see him having a big game as well. Two wins away from another 50-win season, the Clippers are on track to win another Pacific division first place. From March 26 until April 2 they have a road trip with games in New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Minnesota and Phoenix, but they finish the season with five home games before a last night in Portland.

More than just fourth-fifth in the West? The Clippers need the Spurs and Thunder to start sliding and fast for that to happen. Home court advantage didn’t really help them last season, winning the first two games against the Grizzlies before collapsing in the next four.

However, this team is different. A head coach with NBA finals and championship experience, and a Blake Griffin that’s a lot better than his version from last year. If that’s not enough, the Clippers have arguably the best bench in the NBA, and hopefully will be getting J.J. Redick back in time to add another shooter to the mix, while hoping that Danny Granger keeps up the progress and Glen Davis has better games than this one, with only 2 points in 15 minutes.

The Clippers are in the second tier of title contenders, but it would be foolish to ignore their chances and credentials. This team is built and ready to win now, and if Doc Rivers is capable of forming a more consistent type of defense against teams that offer a bigger threat than the Cavs, they might be a bigger threat to the Thunder and Spurs than anyone initially assumed.

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