Blake Griffin had 36 points. (Facebook/Los Angeles Clippers)
When the Clippers and Raptors faced off in Toronto nearly two weeks ago, Terrence Ross shocked everyone by pouring in a career-high 51 points, though the Clippers left Toronto with the win.
Blake Griffin had 36 points and Jamal Crawford added 21 starting in place of the injured J. J. Redick and the Clippers beat the Raptors 118-105, while limiting Ross to 9 points.
1st Quarter: Griffin scored the Clippers’ first five points within the first 90 seconds and finished the quarter with 19—a career high for him in an opening quarter.
2nd Quarter: The Clippers got many second-chance opportunities thanks in large part to DeAndre Jordan, who tipped several would-be Raptors rebounds to Clippers guards.
Jordan’s astute rebounding and the Clippers’ increased defensive pressure gave the Clippers a 67-51 cushion heading into the half, even as Griffin headed to the bench prematurely with three fouls.
3rd Quarter: The Raptors began to intentionally foul Jordan midway through the third. But Jordan didn’t fare too poorly from the line for his standards, shooting 10-for-20 from the charity stripe.
However, the stop-and-go nature of the quarter as a result of the intentional fouls against Jordan disrupted the fluidity of a Clippers offense that was firing on all cylinders up until that point.
The Clippers made 37-of-54 free throws in the game.
Griffin went to the bench with more than four minutes remaining in the third after committing his fifth foul and the Raptors were able to cut the Clippers’ lead from 22 to 9 heading into the fourth
4th Quarter: The Raptors continued to linger around and remained a threat for the first half of the quarter.
Griffin returned with a little over six minutes remaining and promptly hit his first jumper a few seconds later.
The Clippers put the clamps on defensively in the final minutes and the Raptors never threatened again.
Griffin set a Clippers franchise record by scoring 35 or more points for the third consecutive game.
Former USC Trojan DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 36 points and 8 assists.
The Takeaway: Although this game was against the Raptors, who aren’t necessarily the class of the NBA, Griffin has showed that his emergence in 2014 opens up priceless opportunities for the Clippers offensively.
Griffin overmatched Toronto defenders early and forced the Raptors to double team him on many occasions in the second quarter.
But Griffin’s immense passing ability poked a hole in Toronto’s double team, as Griffin reverted to his role as facilitator and became highly effective doing so.
Surely, teams such as the Spurs, Thunder, and Blazers will be a more formidable challenge for Los Angeles come playoff time, but Griffin’s evolution has added different and unique ways for the Clippers to attack.
With Griffin’s big game, the unsung hero of the game was Willie Green.
Green added 12 points off the bench, but more importantly did his damage when the Raptors looked poised for a comeback in the third quarter.
What’s Next?: The Clippers will host the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday at 6:30 p.m. in a game in which Chris Paul is expected to return to the lineup for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury January 3 against the Dallas Mavericks. The game will be televised on Prime Ticket and can be heard on the radio on KFWB 980 AM.