He shouldn’t gloat about it, as the game ended in a loss, but Blake Griffin had a special Tuesday night against the Atlanta Hawks. He didn’t rebound particularly well, nor did his defense look shockingly better. His passing was as good as it always is and that seemingly perplexed (or arrogant) look he gives refs after non-calls was still present. But boy oh boy, did he have an incredible game offensively — something he hasn’t done much this season.
Here are a few bullets that best sum up his performance:
• His 36 points were a season-high. To put things in perspective, he’s scored 30+ points only four times this season. Obviously, with the additions of Chris Paul, Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups (among other factors), Griffin’s role has shifted within the offense (slight dip in usage, less FGA per game). As a result, he’s not having those absurd scoring outbursts we witnessed last year. However, it was his third-highest scoring performance ever (trailing 44 vs. New York and 47 vs. Indiana), meaning Griffin’s still got that scoring punch we’ve missed.
• Griffin’s 17 made field goals were also a season-high (career-high is 19 vs. Indiana in that 47-point monster game). His previous high had been 14 made fields against the Chicago Bulls on December 30th, 2011. What was most impressive, though, was the manner in which he scored. Up-and-unders, hook shots, step-back and pull-up jumpers, floaters, drives, lay-ups and dunks — you name it, Griffin did it. He’s rarely, if ever, had this complete of an offensive game. Not his best, but definitely top-5.
• Though he worked on it during the offseason, and has tried to implement it all season long, Griffin’s jumper has been off all year. In fact, until recently, he was shooting worse from long twos (16-23 feet) than he did last season. But last night, he was on fire. He went 7-for-11 from shots between 16-23 feet, a season-high in both makes and attempts (previous highs were six makes and eight attempts).
• More impressive than his points, made field goals or accuracy from the perimeter, Griffin was ridiculously efficient last night. 17-for-23 from the field (73.9 percent shooting) is his third-best shooting performance of the season and best on 16 or more field goal attempts. And, of course, the only game he shoot better on at least 20 shots was against Indiana (19-for-24, 79.2 percent).
Tuesday night served as a disappointing loss, prevented the Clippers from winning the Pacific Division and getting the 3-seed, and secured their seemingly inevitable first round date with Memphis. Though there was much to be gloomy about, Griffin’s performance shone down a ray of sunlight upon Clipper Nation. After all, to do any damage in the playoffs, they’ll need some special performances from their second-year star.
Statistics in this piece were compiled from HoopData.
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