<
>

Griffin's emphatic dunks not enough as Clips fall

3/12/2011

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Nets fans who paid to come and watch the Blake Griffin show on Friday night at the Prudential Center certainly got some bang for their buck.

As usual, Griffin defied the laws of gravity, flying in for five emphatic dunks -- two of which should've made SportsCenter's Top 10 plays. In the first quarter alone, Griffin threw down a left-handed alley-oop and later rose above the rim for an uncontested breakaway slam. He finished with three flushes in the opening stanza, and later added two in the second half.

Eventually, the high-flying rookie superstar tied for the team-high with 23 points and added nine rebounds. But it was the plays he didn't make down the stretch that proved to be the difference in the Clippers' 102-98 overtime loss to the Nets.

On Los Angeles' final possession of regulation, Griffin attempted a dunk with 1.2 seconds left, but was founded hard by Brook Lopez. The Clippers trailed 94-93 at the time, and had he made both of his free throws, Griffin would've sent them to a hard-fought victory. The Oklahoma product made the first, but then, with the crowd roaring, missed the second, which sent the game into overtime.

"I tried to make both," Griffin said after the game. "That was my mindset."

Then, in the extra session, he was called for two offensive fouls -- both on charges taken by Kris Humphries. And in the end, that proved to be the difference in his team's four-point loss. Of course, the fact that they blew a 20-point second quarter lead didn't help either.

"Turnovers and down the stretch they attacked and we backed up," Griffin said. "I thought we did a good job, especially in the first half. In the second half we let up. They applied pressure and we didn't do too well."

The loss by the Clippers snapped a four-game winning streak. But Griffin believes the team is taking strides in the right direction.

"We've gotten better as a team," Griffin said. "Our new guys have come in and really given us some positive energy and a lot more weapons. For us, it's just about winning these types of games."

Griffin, who will turn 22 on Wednesday, may not have come up with the big plays on Friday night. But it's definitely an experience he can learn from.