LeBron James vs. Blake Griffin: 1st quarter goes to Griffin
The Clippers historically haven't had matchups like this one, but LeBron James (25.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.2 assists) against Blake Griffin (21.8, 12.6 and 3.3) is one of those midseason bonuses that feature two highlight videos waiting to happen.
Griffin, being guarded by Chris Bosh, scored first on a move down the lane a minute and a half into the game. Griffin opened the game guarding center Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
With 7:35 left, Griffin went down hard on a baseline drive after tripping, got up and made his standard one of two free throws. On the next possession, Griffin took a feed from Eric Gordon, drove the lane, made the basket and was fouled, completing the three-point play. James hadn't yet worked his way into the offensive flow for the Heat.
Then coming out of a timeout, with 5:30 left, James hit a jumper from the corner for his first two points.
With 3:20 to go, Baron Davis trief to feed Griffin on a breakaway and the first 'SportsCenter' highlight was teed up. Griffin, unfortunately had the dunk virtually completed before he caught the ball and ended up with a turnover.
James finally arrived with a minute and a half left, with a spinning drive and dunk, the first electric play for the two superstars. The next possession James drove and scored on Griffin, and James worked for the last shot before Griffin stole the ball and fed Gordon for a basket and a 44-26 lead.
The Clippers moved the ball better, played better defense and dominated the first 12 minutes.
Griffin: six points, three rebounds, three assists.
James: seven points, one rebound, two assists.
Photo: Blake Griffin. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / U.S. Presswire