LOS ANGELES (AP) – Blake Griffin held his emotions for himself in his return to Staples Center for the first time against his old team.
After scoring 44 points in the 109-104 victory of Detroit Pistons on the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, he allowed himself a trip down memory lane.
"The best thing to be a part of is something that's bigger than yourself and that's what it was," he said in a busy corridor outside the Pistons' locker room. "I do not look at what I did."
Griffin was greeted with cheers during pregame introductions and received a standing ovation after a first quarter video distribution of the team that had been the first overall in 2009.
"There was a lot of hype in this game and I was looking forward to it, but I'm glad it's over," he said. "The next time I come, it will not be so crazy."
Griffin raised his right arm in the air and brought his raised hands together in a grateful gesture without smiling. He clearly wanted to defeat the team that swapped amazingly last January after signing a five-year extension of $ 171 million.
Detroit Pistons & Blake Griffin swings to fans during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Saturday, January 12, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Ringo H.W. Chiu)
It turned out from the beginning.
Griffin scored 15 points in the opening quarter when he was hit by superfan Clipper Darrell during free throw attempts. He had 26 points in the first half to help Detroit with a 65-54 lead.
"Hey Blake, we'll miss you enough for tonight, OK?" a Clippers fan begged.
Griffin was not ready.
His 3-hand to start the third and a basket from Andre Drummond pushed Detroit to a 16-point lead. Griffin had a one-handed bang reminiscent of his old Lob City days.
"He played great," said Clippers trainer Doc Rivers.
Griffin left the court at the end of the third because of back spasms and came back briefly in a warm cover.
The Clippers tied him to 97 on a 3-hand by Lou Williams after scoring the Pistons 17-7 to unlock the fourth.
Reggie Bullock had two 3-pointers around Drummond's dunk and Griffin's hook for a 107-99 lead.
"We are very happy that we have won the victory for Blake," Bullock said.
The Clippers came in third and Griffin missed two 3-pointers in the last seconds.
He stepped out of the ground in the corner of the baseline as he tried to save a pass and fell back and bumped into fans and the floor.
Bruce Brown stole the ball with 20 seconds, got a mistake from Danilo Gallinari and made both to stay in front of Detroit 109-104. The pullover of Gallinari missed in the declining seconds.
"Because of the piece we played good defense, stopped and protected the ball and that was the difference," said Griffin. "The Clippers are a tough team, they had three guys who came to the floor at the end of the game, it was a balanced and great victory for us."
Drummond had 20 points and 21 rebounds for the Pistons, who had lost nine of 11. Bullock ended with 17.
Gallinari led the Clippers with 23 points. Williams added 22 points and Harrell had 21 points and nine rebounds.
Griffin averaged 21.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists in eight seasons for the Clippers. He was the Rookie of the Year and a five-fold All-Star with the franchise.
Rivers said that he and Griffin have not spoken since the trade.
"That is a lost love because those two had to work," Harrell said.
However, Rivers has credited Griffin with the revival of the franchise.
& # 39; Blake has started, & # 39; Rivers said before the game. "Six play-offs in a row, it does not match the winner, because we have not done that, but it is equal to winning." Blake was part of that. "Now that you hear our name, you do not think of those bad Clippers for Blake."
Pistons: Taylor Griffin was at daycare and brought the son of his younger brother Ford to the locker room after the game. … Drummond had his NBA-leading ninth game of at least 20 points and 20 rebounds. … Griffin played on Staples on Wednesday-evening when the Pistons were lost from the Lakers 113-100. … C Zaza Pachulia (right bruise of the lower leg) missed his seventh consecutive game. … G Ish Smith (right adductor pull) finished his 19th consecutive game.
Clippers: They lost their first game against Griffin's Pistons in Detroit within days after the exchange last year. Griffin had 19 points in that game.
HE SAID IT
"The West is heavy every night and when you lose to an East Coast team it hurts even more." – Rivers.
Pistons: in Utah on Monday night in the final of four-game Western swing.
Clippers: host New Orleans on Monday evening.
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Detroit Pistons & Blake Griffin, right, shoots Los Angeles Clippers Danilo Gallinari during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, January 12, 2019 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Detroit Pistons & Blake Griffin, right, is going to basket in the Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Los Angeles Clippers during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, January 12, 2019 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Detroit Pistons & Blake Griffin, right, shoots Montrezl Harrell from Los Angeles Clippers, left, and Marcin Gortat (13) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, January 12, 2019 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Los Angeles Clippers & Tyrone Wallace, left, goes to the basket while being defended by Blaidge Griffin of Detroit Pistons during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, January 12, 2019 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Montrezl Harrell of Los Angeles Clippers, left, passes the ball while being defended by Reggie Bullock of Detroit Pistons during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, January 12, 2019 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Ringo H.W. Chiu)
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