Pistons' Blake Griffin doesn't play in Wednesday's regular-season finale
New York — Blake Griffin couldn’t do much more.
He sat on the bench in the final 20 minutes of game time in the Pistons’ comeback win over Memphis on Tuesday night at Little Caesars Arena. After hobbling around on his injured left knee, he left after the first three minutes of the third quarter and had to be the best cheerleader he could be.
After a questionable call, Griffin went and talked to one of the officials to get clarification, but there wasn’t much he could add on the court. There is either too much pain, too much damage or too little that the medical staff can do to make it any better.
“I wasn’t able to help us tonight. We’ll take it day by day and see what happens,” Griffin said Tuesday. “I’m going to sit with our training staff tomorrow and figure it out.”
Pistons medical consultant Arnie Kander is known for working minor miracles with his treatments, but getting Griffin back anywhere near 100 percent might be one of Kander’s greatest hits yet, if it can even be done.
There’s no sign that Griffin would be out for a potential playoff run, but what is clear is that he isn’t moving with his usual speed, quickness or strength — and that’s a problem for the Pistons.
Griffin already has posted a career-best in scoring (24.5) and adding excellent production with 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists. Without their main cog, the Pistons have struggled, going just 1-5 in games that he missed.
“That’s my guy. That’s tough. He’s put on his back all year and it’s tough to get in that situation where you put the team on your back the whole year and carried us to get to this position and not finish off,” guard Ish Smith said. “It’s our duty, our job, to go out there and give 110 percent.”
When Griffin figured out that he wasn’t going to be able to help the effort anymore, he hung his head and had a towel draped over his neck, as the reality set in and the Pistons having to rally to beat a woefully depleted Grizzlies roster.
“I feel and hurt (for Griffin) because I was hurt and had a groin strain and I wasn’t able to play. He was always there, asking how I was doing and feeling. It’s a tough situation because we run so much stuff through (Griffin),” Smith said. “To me, he’s one of the best power forwards in the league. Not to have him out there is tough. I’ve been through injuries and it’s tough.
“I just wanted to console him and tell him it’s bigger than basketball. We’re here and we’re a family and whatever the situation, selfishly I want you to be out here but selfishly I want you to be healthy and do too much that you can’t do. I’m happy I got the win but sad and disappointed that he wasn’t out there.”
Ruining the playoff party
The Knicks already have clinched the worst record in the league but it doesn’t mean they don’t have motivation to hold the Pistons back. With a win, they would spoil the Pistons’ season, which seems to be the motivation
“We just want to keep their (butts) out,” Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. said. “We ain’t got too much to play for other than pride right now, so we don’t want to lay down. If we can ruin somebody else’s season, we’ll do it.”
Former Pistons general manager Jeff Bower reportedly has found a new job, in the Suns’ front office. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowki reported that Bower has an agreement to become the Suns’ new vice president of basketball operations.
Bower spent four years with the Pistons before being fired in May.
Pistons at Knicks
Tipoff: 8 tonight, Madison Square Garden
Outlook: The Pistons (40-41) have a chance to secure the final playoff spot with a win or a loss by Charlotte. The Knicks (17-64) already have clinched the worst record in the NBA and have won three of their last five games.