Griffin powers Clippers in 122-101 rout of WizardsSaturday, Mar 12, 2011
On this night, the Los Angeles Clippers didn’t need him.
Griffin scored all of his 26 points in the first half and Los Angeles beat the Washington Wizards 122-101 on Saturday in a matchup between the last two No. 1 overall draft picks.
Griffin got the best of John Wall(notes) both on the scoreboard and in the individual battle, as Wall finished with 25 points, although the rookie from Kentucky also added eight assists and seven rebounds.
Griffin was everywhere in the first half, dominating the Wizards’ post players with his strength and post-up moves. In the game’s first 10 minutes, Griffin scored 16 points and put nearly every Washington big man in foul trouble as the Clippers went on a 23-3 run to build a 32-13 lead.
“Blake got us going,” Los Angeles coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We wanted the ball inside and to get to the free throw line and control the game that way, and I thought he got us off to a great start.”
The Clippers are used to these kinds of impressive performances from Griffin, especially early in games.
Griffin finished the half 8 of 15 from the floor and 10 of 11 from the line, in what appeared to be the start of a very big night for the All-Star forward.
“My teammates found me early and I just got into a rhythm,” Griffin said. “I felt pretty good in the first half and we just all moved the ball and were hitting shots.”
Griffin, however, only took two more shots the rest of the night. But as the Clippers fought off a Washington rally and extended the lead, Griffin was able to enjoy the game from the Los Angeles bench.
“Just sitting there on the bench, talking with Mo Williams(notes) and Randy (Foye), was nice,” Griffin said. “I think that was the first time this year we’ve gotten to sit. At this point of the season, having played so many games and so many minutes, it’s just nice to sit there.”
Washington made things interesting, closing the Clippers’ 19-point lead to 68-65 with 8:36 left in the third quarter. But Los Angeles went on a 29-8 burst over the third and fourth periods to cruise to its fifth win in six games.
Leading the charge was Williams, who scored 22 points, and Bledsoe, who racked up a career-high 23 points in his first matchup with former college teammate Wall.
“I just came out and tried to be aggressive,” Bledsoe said. “I tried to bring the energy that we needed.”
“We know it’s a rebuilding process right now and there’s going to be ups and downs,” Wall said. “I hoped this year would be better but it’s tough right now. All we can try to do is finish strong.”
Los Angeles shot 23 free throws in the first quarter, compared to 21 field goal attempts, in racking up 38 points—the most given up by the Wizards in the opening frame this season.
Griffin saved his trademark theatrics for the second quarter, hooking up with Williams on an alley-oop that drew “ooohs” from the sellout crowd midway through the period. He then followed with a rainbow fadeaway jumper to give the Clippers a 61-46 lead with 3:13 remaining and added an emphatic swat of Wall’s drive on the Wizards’ next shot attempt.
“Blake Griffin is a phenomenal player,” Washington coach Flip Saunders said.
Wall did his best to keep Washington in the game, sprinting through Los Angeles’ defense to score 19 first-half points on 18 attempts as the Wizards went into the break trailing 64-55.
Notes: Saunders downplayed the Wall-Griffin matchup from his player’s perspective before the game. “John is pretty much beyond that,” Saunders said. “He has to worry about himself and not the competition.” … JaVale McGee grabbed eight rebounds to pass the 1,000-rebound mark for his career. He now has 1,004. … Andray Blatche missed the game with a sprained right shoulder he suffered in Wednesday’s loss to Milwaukee, while Rashard Lewis missed his third straight contest with a sore knee. Josh Howard returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games with a strained left hamstring.