Those critics who label Blake Griffin’s offense one-dimensional? The Los Angeles Clippers rookie answered them with the NBA’s high-scoring game this season.
Hitting a mix of bank shots, hooks, 3-pointers and turnaround jumpers, Griffin had a career-high 47 points and 14 rebounds for his 27th consecutive double-double, helping the Clippers rally to beat the Indiana Pacers 114-107 on Monday.
"It’s cool because all I hear is, ‘He can dunk and jumps high,"’ Griffin said. "People question the other skills and as a basketball player, you take that personally."
It was Griffin’s 33rd double-double of his rookie season, and his 19 field goals made were a career best. His points topped the previous league high of 46 by Golden State’s Monta Ellis.
"Oh my goodness, he caught a feeling today," Baron Davis said of Griffin. "He was unstoppable. We just kept feeding him and he kept producing. That keeps the defense off-balance."
Danny Granger scored 32 points, making 10 of 11 free throws, and former UCLA star Darren Collison added 30 points and eight assists for the Pacers, who practically dared Griffin to shoot by rarely double-teaming him.
"We wanted to keep him from getting to the paint and just make him take tough jumpers. But he was making a lot of jump shots, so it was hard to defend him," Granger said.
Eric Gordon added 23 points and Davis had 14 points and 12 assists for the Clippers, who were coming off a win over the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers a day earlier and have won 10 of their last 14.
"It’s time to be a more mature team," Gordon said.
The Clippers started out as if in a hangover from Sunday’s win, trailing most of the first half while letting Griffin do nearly all the scoring – he had 28 points at the break, one more than all his teammates combined.
"We came in and said, ‘We can’t let him do that again,"’ Granger said. "But we just couldn’t stop him."
The Clippers got back into the game in the third, and built an 11-point lead in the fourth.
Los Angeles got three straight 3-pointers by Ryan Gomes, Gordon and Davis, who played an inspired one-minute sequence in which he hit the trey, scored another basket and then stole the ball and fed Randy Foye for a fastbreak layup. Griffin’s three-point play stretched the Clippers’ lead to 103-92 with 5 1/2 minutes to go.
But the Pacers weren’t done.
They outscored the Clippers 11-2 to get to 109-106, with Brandon Rush scoring five in a row.
"It’s not a matter of it slipping away. It’s a matter of Griffin’s performance taking it away," Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. "It was a spectacular performance by Griffin. We couldn’t guard him. Most of his plays came on pick-and-rolls, so Roy (Hibbert) coming over to guard him was not a good option. Then we had Jeff (Foster), who’s our best defender, rotating to him and we had Danny rotating to him. But he was just too much for us to handle."
Davis answered with a 3-pointer and Griffin hit a bank shot that kept Los Angeles ahead 114-107.
"That’s the most important thing, we’re challenging teams and being able to close out in the fourth quarter," Davis said. "That’s what it takes to win."
The Clippers took their largest lead of the third, 73-64, with DeAndre Jordan, Gordon and Gomes joining Griffin in carrying the offensive load. They combined to outscore the Pacers 18-5.
From there, though, the Clippers were held to two field goals over the final 4:08, including a dunk by Gordon that gave them an 81-79 lead heading into the fourth. James Posey and Granger combined to score the Pacers’ final 10 points, tying the game twice before Gordon’s basket gave Los Angeles a slight edge.
Granger scored 20 points and Collison added 19 in the first half, when the Pacers led most of the way in taking a 58-55 lead.
NOTES: The Clippers have their first five-game winning streak at home since Nov. 2-12, 2006. … The Pacers fell to 5-9 against Western Conference opponents, with three more coming up on their current trip. … The Clippers improved to 4-6 in the second game of a back-to-back.