Blake Griffin sparks Clippers, who trail at half [Updated]
Blake Griffin is making his presence known on both sides of the court; how that will ultimately translate into wins and losses for the Clippers remains to be seen. But the sense at Staples Center is that the No. 1 overall pick out of Oklahoma from 2009 is going to be a difference maker.
A minute into the second quarter, Griffin drove hard down the right side and scored on a layup, and 40 seconds later he fed DeAndre Jordan inside with a quick pass down the lane. Jordan was fouled and made both free throws to bring the Clippers to within one, 31-30.
Griffin showed some outside shooting touch with an 18-footer from the left side at the 8:54 mark, though the Clippers still trailed by five.
Griffin fed Eric Gordon for an easy inside bucket to cut Portland's lead to 40-38 with 6:07 remaining. And Gordon's driving dunk with 5:11 gave the Clippers a 41-40 lead after Rasual Butler had made a free throw after a technical foul.
Butler's three pointer made it 44-40 soon thereafter, but a couple of Portland baskets erased that lead.
Griffin's line at the half: 13 points on six-for-nine shooting, seven rebounds, one assist and no turnovers.
Brandon Roy leads the Trail Blazers with 18 points, including a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer.
End of first quarter: Portland 31, Clippers 23
What's the big deal about Blake Griffin? Well, if someone who can jump high enough to see eye to eye with fans in the 300 level at Staples Center and move with the quickness of light is a big deal, Griffin is a big deal indeed. OK, that's a little hyperbolic, but you get the idea.
Griffin showed that the yearlong wait to get him onto the court was worth it with his early play in the Clippers' opening game Wednesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Clippers fans, filling most of Staples Center, roared when Griffin scored his first two points in a regular-season game at the 8:38 mark. On a breakaway, Randy Foye fed Griffin, who was driving down the lane, and Griffin went high to catch the ball with one hand and slam the ball through.
Just a minute later, Griffin drove for a layup from the right side, and 40 seconds after that, he slammed home a left-handed dunk off a rebound, and L.A. basketball fans began to see that the guy many followers think is a favorite for rookie of the year has some skills that haven't been seen in a Clippers uniform for some time.
Griffin, who sat the last three minutes of the quarter, ended with period with nine points of four-of-six shooting and five rebounds, four of them on the offensive boards. After he sat, though, Portland extended its lead.
Griffin, of course, missed all of last season after injuring his knee before the regular season. He showed no ill effects in the early going.
The Clippers opened with Baron Davis at the point, Eric Gordon at the other guard, Ryan Gomes at forward and Chris Kaman at center, along with Griffin. Gordon sat three minutes into the game after committing his second foul.
-- Mike James
Photo: Blake Griffin. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.