The MVP award is going to Kevin Durant or LeBron James, but it’s always nice to throw some names out there worthy of consideration. For the first time in his career, Blake Griffin is displaying almost the full package, and deserves to be mentioned among the best in the NBA regardless of position, team or success. Who knows where the Los Angeles Clippers would be without him this season.
Blake Griffin finished with 37 points in another huge game for the fourth year player, who added 6 rebounds, 6 turnovers and 6 fouls as he fouled out two minutes after P.J. Tucker was ejected for swinging an elbow or a fist at Griffin, making it yet another player in a long list of guys who seem to find it difficult handling Griffin without resorting to dirty tactics, adding the Suns to the list that includes the Thunder and the Warriors.
The Clippers managed to let a big lead slip away from them against the Suns but eventually come away with the 112-105 win in a night which was mostly about Griffin showing his complete offensive arsenal, as he shot 14-of-16 from the field with the complementary highlight dunks and also going 9-of-10 from the line in a season that has been a huge career stepping stone from him, turning into one of the best power forwards in the league, evolving from being the guy who can’t do much more than dunk and rebound.
Somehow the Clippers took their foot off the gas against a Suns team that is suddenly losing its playoff spot in the top 8 (already dropped to ninth), and went into another gear when the game seemed all but lost. Goran Dragic scored 23 points and six more players scored in double figures, including Gerald Green and Markieff Morris with 16 points. However, the Suns didn’t have enough to make an even bigger finish and fizzled out before the end.
Darren Collison scored 20 points for the Clippers, Chris Paul finished with 17 points and 11 assists and DeAndre Jordan added 17 rebounds to his 8 points. But the Clippers, despite shooting 55.1% from the field, getting a lot of easy shots and open looks, making the most of them, turned the ball 21 times in a very quick paced game, while having trouble keeping their bigs on the floor. Having to use Glen Davis for more than they’d like because of foul trouble meant an easier time for the Suns, who seemed better when it was time for small-ball.
It was a very good game for Danny Granger, scoring 14 points off the bench. The Clippers have been busy all season adding more and more pieces to their already deep bench, hurt by injuries. Glen Davis has been disappointing, and Hedo Turkoglu’s contribution doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. But if this season ends up with a bigger achievement than in the first two CP3 years, it will mostly be about Griffin taking his game into another level, and also being able to control himself or at least do a better job than in the past with almost every team somehow trying to get into his head and throw him off his game.