Blazers beat Clippers 98-88, spoil Griffin’s debutBy BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer Thursday, Oct 28, 2010
LOS ANGELES (AP)—New coach, new general manager and new star in the making. Same old result for the Clippers.
Griffin had 20 points and 14 rebounds, a year after his rookie season was supposed to begin. The No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft broke his left kneecap in the Clippers’ final preseason game and missed all of last season.
“In some areas I did well, but there’s a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “It was a sigh of relief that I made it back, but I don’t want to make this game bigger than it is. It is a first game, not a live or die situation.”
LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Blazers, who gave Nate McMillan his 200th victory as coach. Nicolas Batum(notes) scored 15 points, Andre Miller(notes) 14 and former Clippers center Marcus Camby(notes) had 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Roy added 10 rebounds. He went 0 for 8 from the floor in the second half.
“They were sending multiple guys at Brandon in the second half, and it’s hard to play one-on-three,” Camby said. “But we really didn’t need him that much in the second half. Our two best players are LaMarcus and Brandon, and when one doesn’t have it going in the first half, like LaMarcus, Brandon led us in the first half. In the second half, Brandon didn’t play well and LaMarcus did. So it’s good to have that balance.”
Griffin took the microphone before the game and thanked the fans for coming out on opening night. After recording his first NBA statistic—a foul—he electrified the crowd of 18,382 with an alley-oop one-handed dunk.
“You could say a little frustration taken out on the rim,” he said about his first dunk in a game that finally counted.
Griffin later scored seven straight points, drawing more cheers for a putback dunk and a tip-in.
“He’s a guy that jumps all over the place and he’s quick, so he’s definitely going to be a big body there to mess around with for some years to come,” said Miller, another former Clipper.
Camby and Griffin were teammates last season, when Griffin was relegated to rehab after undergoing surgery.
“He’s a stud, man. He’s going to be the face of that franchise for years to come,” Camby said.
Griffin’s intensity was on display when he jerked his mouth guard out after getting called for his second foul and sitting down.
But he hardly scored after halftime, and even though they weren’t directed at him, he heard the boos that fans don’t hesitate to give the Clippers. Chris Kaman(notes) drew the fans’ wrath when he missed consecutive shots during a stretch in which the Blazers ran off 15 straight points in the fourth. Kaman finished with 11 rebounds.
The Clippers led 71-70 going into the fourth, but they fell apart after scoring seven straight for a 78-74 lead.
“Their zone bothered us,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We got very stagnant. I thought we settled for too much. It’s a good learning experience. We just got to learn how to win the fourth quarter.”
The Blazers scored at will, with Aldridge getting seven points and Miller four in the decisive run that put Portland ahead for good, 91-80.
“It was our defense,” Camby said. “We changed it up a little bit and switched from man to a zone, and I think that kind of slowed them down a little and made them a little hesitant. Then we were able to get some stops.”
Portland owned a 51-41 edge on the boards, including a 21-14 offensive edge.
“I wasn’t happy at all with how I blocked out on the defensive glass,” Griffin said. “They had 21 offensive rebounds and I probably gave up six of them, which is ridiculous. That should never happen.”
Despite Griffin’s offensive exploits, the Clippers still trailed 32-23 after Roy scored Portland’s last five points of the first quarter.
Los Angeles outscored the Blazers 22-9 to open the second and led by one before Roy scored Portland’s last 11 points for a 54-49 lead going into halftime.
NOTES: Del Negro fell to 2-1 on opening night as a coach. Chicago won both openers in his two seasons as Bulls coach. … McMillan is 200-212 in six seasons in Portland. … Former Clippers guard Cuttino Mobley(notes), who retired two years ago because of a heart condition, sat courtside.