Blake Griffin made no secret of the fact that this was an important one to him. Last night’s visit to the Clippers at the Staples Center was bound to be one that Griffin had circled in his calendar.
He even had a long interview with Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN earlier in the week where he did some unpacking that mostly just showed how much he’s still dealing with move.
The night got off to an auspicious start, with Griffin seeming to leave Clippers owner Steve Ballmer hanging for a handshake:
Blake Griffin really left Steve Ballmer hanging pic.twitter.com/X8Q65aJHoA— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 12, 2019
But Griffin said it was much ado about nothing:
“For nine years now, as soon as I’m done doing my pregame shooting, I make sure there’s a path and I take off running to the locker room. I don’t stop running. A lot of you know that. A lot of you have been here for a long time and seen me do that before. I don’t change that for anybody. To tweet out something like that, like what you did, was kind of bullshit. You know that. But that’s what it was. Plain and simple. It wasn’t anything planned. Every single game I’ve done this for I don’t know how long.”
Maybe. But Ballmer certainly seemed to think it was was something, so it’s not really unreasonable that folks reported it that way.
But Griffin’s day was only positive from there.
He had a nice standing ovation from fans when he was introduced in the lineup, and again later after the Clippers showed a great tribute video.
Blake Griffin acknowledging the standing ovation by the Clippers crowd. pic.twitter.com/1RkLvrM89p— House of Highlights (@HoHighlights) January 12, 2019
Most importantly though, Blake kicked a ton of ass and got his new team the win.
Griffin posted 44 point, eight rebounds, five assists - and he was just absolutely dominant.
He shot the ball well from three. It was a three pointer that got his night off to the right start, one of those buckets you see and think, “Ok...Blake might be about to do something big.” When you connect on 38.5 percent from three on 13 attempts, that’s usually going to be a good night.
But that was actually the weakest part of Griffin’s performance. What he did to the Clippers inside the arc...well, to call it a revenge game makes what Liam Neeson did to the bad guys in Taken look tame in comparison.
He was 8-10 from two and earned 14 free throws - of which he made 13 of them. Two came from a flagrant foul from Mike Scott, who was made a bullshit foul after being pissed from getting worked over by Griffin:
But it’s easy to see why Michael Scott got upset. Griffin was unstoppable.
It’s been a rough year for the Pistons, and surely it’s been rough on Blake. It’s nice that he was able to get this one.