Griffin’s impressive dunk dazzles … everyone

LOS ANGELES – Seldom has one slam dunk caused such a stir – or been as spectacular – as the one Blake Griffin delivered Monday night.
 
It wasn’t so much a dunk as it was a statement. When Griffin soared above the rim and emphatically delivered it, you got the feeling that the Los Angeles Clippers had arrived.
 
They’ll deny it, of course. They still talk about ways they can improve, things they need to do to be more consistent, but there was no arguing this point: Griffin’s dunk was an exclamation point to a spectacular win.
 
The fact it came against the Oklahoma Thunder, who arrived with the best record in the NBA, perhaps made it even more impressive. One night after scoring a road victory at Denver, the Clippers beat the Thunder 112-100 at Staples Center.
 
“We’re learning,” Clippers guard Chris Paul said. “We’ve just got to keep building an identity. We can’t say we’ve arrived after winning this game. We’re going to look at the film and there’s still a lot of things we have to clean up.”
 
One of them won’t be Griffin’s dunk, which set the Twitter world aflutter. It came with 8:52 left in the third quarter and the Clippers breezing, 70-51.
 
Paul bounced a pass to Griffin as the Clippers forward was breaking to the basket. He sailed high above the rim at least three feet from the basket and let fly with a one-handed jam over a flat-footed Kendrick Perkins.
 
Staples Center erupted and so did Twitter.
 
Miami Heat forward LeBron James tweeted: “Dunk of the Year!! Wow!!”
 
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp: “The best dunk I have ever seen in my life!!! I can’t stop rewinding it!!”
 
Unemployed wide receiver Terrell Owens: “OMG!!! OMG!!! Who just saw the dunk by @blakegriffin on Kendrick Perkins?!! That dude is a beast!!”
 
Teammate DeAndre Jordan bear-hugged Griffin from behind until Griffin finally broke free. The play was shown no fewer than nine times on the scoreboard above the court – and each time it drew oohs and aahs from the Staples crowd.
 
“By the crowd’s reaction, you can kind of gauge how it was,” Griffin said. “And then my second gauge is DJ’s reaction. He came up and arm-locked me. I couldn’t breathe. I had to pull him off.”
 
Paul, who had 26 points and 14 rebounds, said: “Wow, it was amazing. The first thing I thought of was that it looked identical to what he did against the Knicks. I was just excited.”
 
Last season, Griffin posterized then-Knicks big man Timofey Mozgov in what is popularly recalled as one of the best dunks of last season. And who can forget his dunk at the All-Star Game when he soared over a car?
 
Almost forgotten was the Clippers’ incredible first-half finish after Oklahoma City had closed to within six points, 52-46 with 1:35 left on the clock.
 
The Clippers then hit four consecutive 3-pointers, each one causing the Staples sellout to erupt. First, Mo Williams delivered from 25 feet. Then Caron Butler. Then Williams again. Then Chauncey Billups. All in a span of 1:16.
 
Suddenly, the Clippers led by 18 points, 64-46.
 
“I just told Mo Williams that that might have been the greatest exchange I’ve been a part of since I’ve been in the NBA — the excitement, the crowd,” Paul said. “I watched Caron as he creeped up there and got the steal (from Kevin Durant) – that really gave us the momentum and got the crowd energized.”
 
By then, the pace of the game already exhausted them. Six Clippers scored in double figures, while the Thunder got most of their offense from Durant (36 points) and former UCLA star Russell Westbrook (31).
 
The Thunder came in with a 16-3 record and were 8-2 on the road, but they fell behind early as the Clippers stayed hot from outside, scoring 36 points in the first quarter and converting 13 of 25 shots from 3-point range. They made 56.3 percent of their field goals.
 
This season, the Clippers have beaten an NBA finalist (Miami), the NBA champion (Dallas), their hometown rival (the Lakers) and the team with the league’s best record (the Thunder). Can it get much better?
 
“We’ve played well, but we still have a long ways to go,” Griffin said. “We still have a lot of work to do, defensively, offensively, everybody. We can get better. That’s the good thing.”