Game Notes: Spurs at Clippers
Blake Griffin. Believe the hype.
by Patrick Crawley / @BasketballFiend
“I liken him to a gladiator,” Pop said. “He’s stronger than everybody. He’s more powerful. He’s quicker. He’s most of the time more determined on top of it all. He’s one tough cat.”
A reporter told Blake and Blake laughed. Then he went all Maximus on San Antonio, scoring 31 points (on 14-21 shooting from the field), grabbing 13 boards and throwing down so many mind-blowing dunks the fans in Staples Center hardly knew what to do (and by that I mean they stood and cheered).
Are you not entertained?
And so was the crowd on Twitter. I don’t know what I saw more of Wednesday: “Blake Griffin is a beast” tweets or 50-year-old men with 22-year-old girlfriends. OK, it was definitely old men with girlfriends.
After all, this is L.A.
I got to the arena just in time to catch the horde gathering around Gregg Popovich. This is where the gladiator quote came into play.
Pop had other things to say as well.
On the Spurs’ up-tempo offense: “We decided before training camp that’s what we wanted to do. We’re never going to be Phoenix or New York or anything like that, but we just felt that we needed to pick the pace up and the guys have responded pretty well to it.”
Did he talk to Duncan about changing tempo?
“No. I didn’t talk to him at all. Not a bit. Timmy’s the ultimate coachable guy. If I said we were going to shoot within six seconds or we were going to walk it up the floor every time, he would do it. That’s just the kind of guy he is.”
What does it mean to change the pace of the offense?
Hit cutters, break out, have different guys bring the ball up the court.
That’s when it got boring. I found Blake.
Hey Blake, Pop called you a gladiator. (That’s not me. It’s an attractive female reporter.) What do you think of that?
Blake laughs deep, the only one I heard from him all night. Rumble, rumble, rumble.
The game starts slow. The Clippers have the lead. Some jumpers here and there, and then BOOM! Blake accelerates past Timmy D and obliterates the rim with a two-handed dunk. Wait, that’s a future Hall of Famer he just posterized, right?
Good. Just checking.
Later, Blake posts Blair. He muscles into the big fella, gets engulfed and falls backward, launching a shot as he drops. It drops too – off backboard no less.
You can’t turn your back on Blake. You never know when he’s going to do something incredible.
Baron Davis checks in at the 5:54 mark for the first time since Game 9 (in which he played just 10 minutes). The crowd is hyped, but it’s mostly due to the high-flying show the League’s top rookie is putting on. Baron gets a smattering of applause, but that’s it.
He immediately feeds off the energy Blake created, though, and goes into the crowd is alive and I’m alive too mode, dropping dimes like he’s got a bucket of change over a Coinstar.
Late in the quarter, he pulls up just outside the three-point line. Blake gives him a signal and Baron lofts a beautiful arching pass toward the rim. Blake turns baseline, leaps and rips it down – an alley-oop so long I don’t have an analogy for it. Just know it was spectacular.
Maximus! Maximus! Maximus!
The quarter ends appropriately, on a made turnaround J from Baron at the buzzer.
Eric Bledsoe’s back, and he’s completely out of control: two-straight turnovers, causing Vinny Del Negro to pound the ball into the hardwood as it rolls to him on the bench. Frustrated, he calls a timeout.
Later, Baron comes back and it’s apparent he can’t drive past Matt Bonner. He doesn’t have the speed. That’s what I’m thinking. Then I keep watching and Eric Gordon can’t get past Bonner either. Later, Blake can’t get by him, which is when I have a red-headed epiphany: Matt Bonner’s a pretty damn good defender.
Yes, I question my sanity sometimes too.
Speaking of D, Timmy D and George Hill have been double-teaming Blake this quarter and it’s working. He just lost his cool and earned the Clips a 24-second violation.
The chants of Maximus subside, however briefly.
He is mortal after all.
Baron’s not getting to the rim, but he’s continuing to create for his teammates: namely Blake and DeAndre Jordan. By halftime, Boom Dizzle has racked up 7 assists.
The crowd gives him an ovation when he hits a three at the 2:20 mark to the give the Clippers a 44-40 lead.
L.A. extends the lead to 8 at halftime, 48-40.