LOS ANGELES – Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin scored an impressive 44 points in his first stint at the Staples Center against his former team, while the Pistons defeated the LA Clippers, 109-104 , Saturday.
"It was good to end this game," Griffin said. "I sort of compare it to the first game of the year, there is such a hype before it, and once it's done, you have to play 81 more. have to play 41 more or whatever, it's over and I move on, they move on. "
The sold-out crowd at the Staples Center received Griffin warmly during the presentations. During the first break in the game, the Clippers gave Griffin a video tribute, a compilation of highlights from his career and some of his brand approval campaigns. After the presentation, Griffin received a standing ovation and greeted the crowd.
"I did not see everything, but I saw fragments," Griffin said of the video. "It was really cool to be welcomed like that – it means a lot – I appreciate all those fans here."
At the end of December, Griffin told ESPN that as an emotional player, he imagined Saturday's game would be an exciting event. After the game, Griffin said that when he woke up Saturday morning, this feeling of anticipation was not as sharp as he had expected.
"I thought I did a good job for most [of managing emotions], "Griffin said." I played in great games, and it was easier than I thought. I was not too overwrought – I was really excited. "
Griffin dominated the action in the first half, scoring 26 points on 10 field placement attempts – including 3 against 6 beyond the bow – before the intermission. As the Clippers reduced their two-digit double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, Griffin equalized a two-run double over two defensemen to give Detroit a 107-99 lead. He also witnessed two crucial points from 3 points of Reggie Bullock, another former Clippers recruit, at a time when the Pistons were struggling to make baskets.
Blake Griffin of the Pistons pays tribute to the crowd of Staples Center Saturday. Andrew D. Bernstein / NBAE via Getty Images
"When he succeeds like that in attack, it's hard for the teams," Bullock said. "They have to make an adjustment on the defensive side, they have to start doubling in. Once they double, it's time for me to shine."
The Pistons resisted the Clippers with a series of defensive positions, scoring only three field goals in Los Angeles in the final nine minutes of the game. Although Griffin largely downplayed the importance of his return, highlighting the importance of winning for a team that had lost nine of his previous 11 matches, teammates and coaches expressed their satisfaction on behalf of Griffin.
"I thought about it [the win] That mattered a lot to him, "said Pistons coach Dwane Casey. What mattered most was that his teammates were enthusiastic about it. This is a sign of solidarity and wanted to attract your teammate, the success of your teammate. I thought it was really important. "
During the summer of 2017, the Clippers signed a five-year contract with their local star, presenting Griffin with an elaborate presentation whose main theme was "Clipper for Life". Six months later, Griffin was transferred to Detroit as part of a contract in exchange for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a 2018 first-round pick. Griffin learned the deal from a third and expressed doubts about the process.
"Most exchanges and starts are not going very well, for the record," said Clippers' coach, Doc Rivers, during his pre-match media availability. "They're not doing it, they're not doing well, they're all coming back."
Before the game, Steve Ballmer, owner of the Clippers, was waiting for Griffin to finish his warm-up training. When Griffin finished, Ballmer called his former superstar and reached out to him. Rather than greet Ballmer, Griffin signed his nonstop sprint after his last shot of the court through the tunnel and into the locker room. At his post-game press conference, Griffin said his long-standing ritual was a priority over any type of junk.
"For nine years, as soon as I finished my pre-match shoot, I'm making sure that there's a way, I'm running to the locker room and I'm stopping not run, "said Griffin. "I do not change that for anyone … it was it, it's clear, it was not planned."
Griffin exchanged words on the buzzer with Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, who was never willing to offer hospitality to an opponent, but exchanged hugs with former teammates Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell.
Griffin was drafted for the first time in the overall standings by the Clippers in the 2009 NBA draft. After missing the entirety of his first season at the injury, he burst onto the scene in 2010, winning the Rookie of the Year unanimously and has been selected for the All-Star Game five times as a Clipper. During Griffin's tenure on the team, the Clippers experienced their most successful sequence of franchise history, with six consecutive appearances in the playoffs.
"The best thing to do is something bigger than yourself," Griffin said. "It's what it was, I do not look at it like what I did."
Rivers said Griffin was the most vital presence to reverse the image of the Woebegone Clippers franchise.
"Blake, individually, is the one who started everything," said Rivers. "He's the winner of the dunk contest, he was wearing a Clipper jersey, people understand, and now when you hear our name, you do not think about those bad Clippers before Blake, so for me, Blake is the one who has launched this, so The success we had, in my opinion, from that moment, is due to Blake, [DeAndre Jordan] and Chris [Paul] – and in that order. "