Revenge served: Pistons top Clippers with Griffin's 44, halt skid
Los Angeles — The L.A. bright lights and the big moment weren’t too big for Blake Griffin.
Almost like a Hollywood script, Griffin drew all the attention in his first game against his former team, in the media crucible of Los Angeles.
Griffin looked right at home at Staples Center, scoring 26 of his 44 points in the first-half — much to the delight of the L.A. crowd, who cheered him heartily after he was introduced in the pregame and again during a timeout, when the Clippers showed a tribute video in the first half on the video board.
In the end, Griffin earned the happy ending too, leading the Pistons to an impressive 109-104 victory on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center.
The predictable script with Griffin getting back at his former team played out, as his teammates played one of their most cohesive games of the season, hitting big shots that had evaded them in recent weeks.
“I hope we can play all the ex-teams in revenge games. It seems like we get up for those,” coach Dwane Casey joked. “Our compete level was very high, diving for loose balls and attacking their pressure.”
“Blake played against double-teams and still getting 44 was pretty good. I thought it meant a lot to him. The most important thing is his teammates were excited for him. That’s a sign of togetherness and wanting to pull together for the success of your teammate."
Andre Drummond finished with 20 points and 21 rebounds and Reggie Bullock 17 points and seven rebounds for the Pistons (18-23), who snapped their four-game losing skid and got their first victory on the four-game western trip, which finishes Monday at Utah.
Griffin was cheered and minimally jeered throughout the game, but he was a critical piece down the stretch, finding open teammates when he wasn’t scoring himself.
“I can’t say that I was really prepared for (the return). I looked forward to seeing people I hadn’t seen in forever, who I had become very close with during my time here,” Griffin said. “But most importantly, for us, this is the part of the season where we need wins right now, so coming in and focusing and getting that done was the most important thing for us.”
The Pistons had a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the Clippers made a furious comeback, as Lou Williams (22 points) hit a 3-pointer and Tyrone Wallace had five points. His 3-pointer with 9:58 remaining ended the 10-2 run and trimmed the Pistons’ lead to two.
Griffin answered with a drive and a 3-pointer but the Clippers kept coming. They had another 7-0 spurt, with a pair of free throws from Danilo Gallinari (23 points), a lay-in by Montrezl Harrell (21 points, nine rebounds and six assists) and another Williams 3-pointer, which tied it at 97 at the 4:45 mark.
Bullock gave the Pistons the lead for good with a 3-pointer and after Williams pulled the Clippers (24-18) within one with a lay-in, the Pistons looked to put it away with seven straight point, with a Drummond dunk, another 3-pointer from Bullock and a hook by Griffin in the lane.
“(The threes were) definitely momentum breakers. I feel like every shot I shoot is going to go in and I continue to shoot with confidence,” Bullock said.
“The team came out and showed a lot of fight and it was a chip on our the shoulder to not go 0-2 here in L.A. We pulled out one, so we can still finish the trip at .500.”
The Clippers pulled within three after a drive by former Piston Tobias Harris and two more free throws by Gallinari but Bruce Brown got a steal and made two free throws for the final margin.