Clippers add to Bobcats’ woeful season
Blake Griffin can’t remember ever receiving an ovation from an opposing crowd after leaving a game.
But he got one Saturday night after an impressive performance that included several highlight-reel dunks in the Los Angeles Clippers’ 111-86 rout of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Griffin finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds before leaving the game with a little more than six minutes remaining.
”That might be a first,” Griffin said of the ovation. ”That was pretty cool.”
It was such a blowout that by the end of the third quarter the Clippers had built a 32-point lead as Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan had already recorded double-doubles.
Paul toyed with the Bobcats, finishing with 18 points and 14 assists in only 28 minutes. Jordan had 11 points with 12 rebounds and Caron Butler added 16 points as the Clippers made sure there wouldn’t be another letdown on this road trip like they had at Cleveland.
Even Paul said he’s amazed watching Griffin play.
”He’s a freak of nature,” Paul said.
Kemba Walker had 19 points for the Bobcats, who’ve lost a franchise-record 14 straight and are on pace to match a dubious NBA record.
At 3-24, the Bobcats’ winning percentage (.125) equals that of the NBA’s all-time worst – the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who finished 9-72. The Bobcats are on pace to finish this year’s lockout-shortened 66-game schedule with eight wins.
The Bobcats, who’ve lost their last six by an average of 24.8 points, simply had no answers for Paul and Griffin, who put on a basketball clinic in Charlotte.
Paul created easy passing lanes with his dribble and Griffin raised the volume at Time Warner Cable Arena with a handful of high-flying – and often uncontested – dunks.
They fed off each well, using pick-and-rolls to free each other up for easy shots.
One of the many highlight-reel plays came with 4:44 left in the third quarter when Paul threw a no-look, behind-the-back bounce pass from the wing to a cutting Griffin, who came charging down the lane at full speed, caught the ball and threw down a powerful one-handed jam all in one motion, bringing the crowd to its feet.
Paul said he’s pleased with the chemistry he and Griffin have developed in such a short amount of time.
But he thinks they still have a long way to go.
”We’re still working on it, but it’s a lot of fun,” Paul said. ”With his basketball IQ, you can learn on the fly like that. This team was thrown together within a month, so as much as looks like we’ve figured each other out and know everything about each other, we don’t.”
Griffin said he doesn’t have any set alley-oop plays with Paul, even though it looks like they’ve rehearsed them for years.
”When we’re out there it’s just eye contact or whatever,” Griffin said. ”That’s how it works. I think that’s the way we like to play, just freely and everybody moving through the screens and all that. That’s what worked for us tonight.”
Griffin’s circus dunk gave the Clippers a 27-point edge.
Near the end of the third quarter the crowd had had enough of the home team and began booing the Bobcats after allowing Jordan to drive uncontested for a layup for a 36-point Clippers lead. Coach Paul Silas immediately called a timeout.
The Bobcats did go on a 14-2 run to cut the lead to 22, and Paul and Griffin returned briefly to ensure the Bobcats didn’t get any closer.
The crowd didn’t seem to mind at all as Griffin entertained them with the type of athleticism they haven’t seen all year, including a few more ferocious dunks, two of them coming on breakaways.
”I wanted to bench guys to get more minutes but when they’re going to make a run like that I’m just going to control the game a little bit and get us back on our feet a little bit,” said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. ”You’re going to put your top players in there. I had to do that for a few minutes and then put the guys back in to finish it off.”
Silas said playing without D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson is really taking a toll on his team. This was also only the second game back for Corey Maggette after missing 19 with a strained hamstring.
”You know, and I never make excuses but the fact is that 30 of our points are sitting on the bench,” Silas said. ”We don’t have 30 points and if you take 30 points off anybody’s roster, its’ going to be tough… It’s a real problem.”
Maggette said the Bobcats’ recent struggle has been tough for all involved, but the players haven’t lost faith in Silas.
”We’re just not playing hard as a group,” Maggette said. ”We’re just not doing the right things right. Ultimately we need to make shots. We’re shooting like 32 percent as a group and that’s not going to cut it, especially against a good team.”
Notes: It was throwback night, and the Bobcats were honored as the Carolina Cougars of the ABA. The Clippers wore jerseys from the old Los Angeles Stars. … Maggette was back in the starting lineup for the Bobcats, replacing Tyrus Thomas. Maggette saw limited action in Friday night’s loss to Chicago. … Del Negro said Chauncey Billups will undergo surgery on his torn Achilles on Wednesday in Colorado.