Griffin scores 44 points in emotional LA return
LOS ANGELES: Blake Griffin made an turbulent return to the Staples Center, scoring 44 points as the Detroit Pistons toppled the Los Angeles Clippers 109-104 on Saturday.
It was an emotional day for Griffin as he snubbed Clippers owner Steve Ballmer before the game, was greeted with a standing ovation during a first quarter video tribute, and then had a heated exchange on the floor with former teammate Patrick Beverley as the final horn sounded.
“There was a lot of hype coming into this game and I was looking forward to it, but I’m glad that it’s over,” said Griffin. “The next time I come it won’t be as crazy.”
The former first overall draft pick by the Clippers in 2009 was surprisingly traded to Detroit last January after signing a five-year extension worth $171 million.
Griffin averaged 21.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists in eight seasons in Los Angeles. He won the rookie-of-the-year award and was a five-time all-star with the franchise.
Before the game, Clippers owner Ballmer waited on the sidelines and then extended his hand for a handshake, but Griffin ignored him, sprinting off to the locker room.
After the game, Griffin scolded a reporter for mentioning the snub on social media, saying he was just conducting his pre-game routine.
Asked if he would ever shake Ballmer’s hand, Griffin bristled, saying, “I am not here to answer hypothetical questions.”
Andre Drummond had 20 points and 21 rebounds and Reggie Bullock finished with 17 for the Pistons, who have lost nine of their last 12.
“Down the stretch we played great defense, got stops and protected the ball and that was the difference,” Griffin said.
Danilo Gallinari led the Clippers with 23 points. Lou Williams added 22 points, and Montrezl Harrell had 21 points and nine rebounds. - AFP
Blake Griffin #23 of the Detroit Pistons shoots the ball against the LA Clippers on January 12, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.