Thun­der avenge loss to Spurs, Grif­fin scores 44 in LA re­turn

Manila Times - - Sports -

LOS AN­GE­LES: Rus­sell West­brook tal­lied 24 points and 10 re­bounds and re­serve guard Den­nis Schroder scored all 10 points in the sec­ond half as the Ok­la­homa City Thun­der de­feated the San An­to­nio Spurs 122-112 on Satur­day (Sun­day in Manila).

The Thun­der ral­lied from a nine- point half­time deficit to seize con­trol of the con­test in the third quar­ter and avenge a 154- 147 dou­ble- over­time loss to the Spurs two nights ago.

Paul Ge­orge added 18 points and 11 re­bounds for Ok­la­homa City, who outscored the Spurs 35-20 in the third.

The win snapped a three- game los­ing streak for the Thun­der. It was just San An­to­nio’s sec­ond loss in its last eight games. “Schroder just sliced us and diced us, did a great job get­ting to the rim,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “De­fense let us down.” Marco Be­linelli scored 24 points and DeMar DeRozan added 18 points for the Spurs. LaMar­cus Aldridge, who scored a ca­reer-high 56 points against the Thun­der on Thurs­day, strug­gled with the ex­tra cov­er­age and fin­ished with 17 points. “They didn’t let me play,” Aldridge said. “They dou­bled me in ev­ery way. They came from the base­line, from the top. They made sure that the ball wasn’t in my hands.”

Else­where, Blake Grif­fin made an tur­bu­lent re­turn to the Sta­ples Cen­ter, scor­ing 44 points as the De­troit Pis­tons top­pled the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers 109-104.

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.

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