Blake Griffin

A career can develop in unpredictable directions, like Blake Griffin becoming much more than a human highlight film and stepping up time after time for the Los Angeles Clippers, still without Chris Paul, and doing a lot more than scoring and rebounding, such as being a facilitator and making players around him better.

Griffin led the Clippers to a 110-103 win with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists. He’s still not perfectly comfortable doing more with the ball, even though it’s not completely new to him (hence the 5 turnovers), but with every game that goes by he shows he’s quite capable of leading the Clippers as more than just the guy who is waiting in the paint for something to happen.

The Wizards decided they won’t let Griffin and DeAndre Jordan score on them in the paint, outscoring them 62-42 beneath the basket. The problem was their tactics – foul after foul before using the hack-a-DJ, which blew up in their faces. The Clippers shot 32-of-42 from the line, with Jordan hitting 6-of-10. He hit four straight free throws during a 10-4 run over the final 2:48 that gave the Clippers the win, while Bradley Beal, a 80.8% shooter, missed twice from the line during that stretch. Jordan finished the game with 14 points and 17 rebounds.

I’m going to ask Doc if I can shoot the techs from now on.

Griffin

Probably not going to happen anytime soon, though. The Clippers have better players to send to the line. Like J.J. Redick, scoring 20 points with 7-of-11 from the field and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Jamal Crawford was also hard to stop, scoring 21 points on 11-of-12 from the line.

Him and J.J. have this thing going. It’s just been really good stuff. We can do that with veterans.

The Wizards blew their seventh chance this season to go over .500, slipping to 22-23. They haven’t won a game to go above that mark since Oct. 31, 2009. John Wall had 19 points and 11 assists, Beal finished with 20 while Nene Hilario had a 14-8-6 performance. However, the Wizards, who came back from 16 points to 81-80 early in the fourth quarter and stayed close the entire game simply couldn’t finish the job, concentrating a bit too hard on fouling the Clippers then playing straight up basketball and beating them with skills.

We put ourselves in a great position, but we just didn’t have it at the end of the game. They were executing at the other end of the floor and we couldn’t get a stop. It was our best opportunity to beat them, especially with Chris Paul out. But they’re still a great team and they’ve been winning games. It’s the same as you see without Chris in there. Those other guys play the same way. J.J. Redick can shoot the ball and Jamal Crawford’s one of the best at creating his own shots. We did a lot of fouling down the stretch and we didn’t make plays at the offensive end. We got out of rhythm a little bit.

The Clippers are obviously better when Paul plays, but possible more predictable; Their 10-3 record without him, thanks to Griffin stepping up, Darren Collison doing a great fill-in job and the rest of the team following their lead, is more proof this team is in better shape than they were last season.

Images: Source