On Sunday, despite Griffin’s last-minute charging foul, the Clippers lost 100-98 to the Rockets. Clippers’ forward Black Griffin acknowledged that managing only five turnovers was “awful” and not enough to put his team into a winning position. He blamed his weakened arm for his poor performance.
Yet, his last charging foul was breath-taking for most of his fans who watched him trying to steal the bounce pass with his healthy left arm within the last 17 seconds of the game. The daring move resulted in a fast break, while Houston’s Trevor Ariza was the only obstacle between Griffin and the basket.
As the Houston defender backpedaled, Griffin charged, jumped and threw the ball over his shoulders but the whistle blew. Therefore, that couldn’t save the game as Houston won and pushed the Clippers to fall into the tie for 5th in the Western Conference, along with San Antonio and Dallas.
But that was disappointing enough since the crowd had high hopes for Griffin, who missed 15 games due to a surgery meant to cure a staph infection from his right elbow. Everyone noticed that Griffin failed to slip into rhythm, while his moves clearly showed lack of control. He finally managed to commit 5 turnovers and five fouls, while scoring 11 points, performing eight assists, and 11 rebounds.
This Sunday’s defeat was preceded by two other consecutive losses to the Mavericks and the Rockets. So, the team feels quite down. On the other hand, James Harden scored 34 points for Houston, although he had allowed the Clippers to run 9-0, 7-0, and 6-0 in the forth quarter.
By the middle of last week, Griffin said he would be able to face Houston as his right arm slightly recovered and allowed him to extend his shooting range. Back then, he said he had no doubt about his performance since he had been training with coach Robbia Davis for three weeks.
On Sunday, he was introduced by Kermit the Frog who said he rebounded, scored and leaped like a frog, while the crowd warmly welcomed him.
But, it was obvious to anyone that Griffin was not in his greatest shape as he could only perform two midrange jumpers, which are his branded weapon of choice, but missed both. After the game, Griffin said he felt he had only 60 percent of the strength left in his recovering arm, and blamed a weakened triceps for his low performance.
“A free throw feels like I’m at the top of the key. The two shots I shot tonight were both short and I felt like I heaved them up there, so it’s just a matter of kind of getting that strength back”, he also explained.
Moreover, Griffin had a real hard time getting in sync with his teammates, as an outlet pass aimed at him in the first quarter landed out of bounds, while a second quarter pass from Chris Paul was eventually intercepted.
Paul acknowledged that it was hard for any player to come back since everyone expected him to be the same guy, but recovery takes time. Doc Rivers, Clippers coach, showed also his fair share of regrets when he said he was wrong to allow Griffin play in the first 20 minutes. Rivers explained that that was a critical move that destabilized Griffin’s entire performance in the final two quarters.