Pistons' Griffin aims to smash Clippers again
Blake Griffin haunted his former team three weeks ago. The Eastern Conference All-Star power forward will seek a repeat of that performance when the Detroit Pistons host the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday afternoon.
Griffin, who was named an All-Star reserve on Thursday, erupted for 44 points in a 109-104 Pistons victory at the Staples Center on Jan. 12. The Clippers traded him to Detroit just over a year ago after signing him to a long-term contract the previous summer.
Griffin's big day in Los Angeles was one of the few highlights for the Pistons over the last two months. They are six games below .500 after losing 21 of their last 30 outings.
Detroit was lucky to escape with a 93-89 home victory over the short-handed Dallas Mavericks on Thursday. The Pistons trailed most of the way against a team that was missing rookie star Luka Doncic (sore ankle) and had traded away three of its other starters earlier in the day to New York.
Griffin wasn't happy with his team's disposition.
"We just cared a little bit more (in the fourth quarter), which is not necessarily a good thing," he said.
"I said it in here after the game, happy for the win, take the win and move on, but this should feel like a loss. I don't feel good right now. I hope this is how we feel collectively as a team and carry that on into tomorrow's work and into our next game."
Griffin knows that without a more determined effort than the Pistons had on Thursday, the rematch against the Clippers won't go well.
"I don't want to say we didn't care," he said. "I think every guy in this locker room cares. Those two things right there -- bad shooting now and a little bit lackadaisical effort early on -- are killers in this league."
Coach Dwane Casey was also alarmed by his team's lack of focus until the latter stages of the game.
"I don't care who it is, you got to play with force in this league," he said.
"You can't play in cool mode; there is no such thing as cool mode in this league, especially in Detroit. When I grew up this is what this team stood for: hard-work, grit, grind, knock you on your butt and step on you on the way over. We did not have that in the first half."
Clippers forward Tobias Harris might have a little extra motivation on Saturday. He was part of the package that Detroit forwarded to the Clippers for Griffin. He was also not included among the reserves selected for the All-Star Game.
Harris is averaging 21.1 points and 7.9 rebounds, shooting 50.1 percent from the field and 43.0 percent from 3-point range.
"I'm just being very honest. This one, I really wanted Tobias to make it," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
"I thought he deserved to make it. With our record and what we've done with him and his improvement, I thought it was really important that he would make it."
The Clippers lost in overtime to the Lakers 123-120 on Thursday. They have dropped two straight as they embark on a six-game road trip.
"It was an up-and-down game from the start of it," Harris said. "I thought we kept fighting all night to be able to put ourselves in a position to win. Just a couple of mistakes that happened over the course of the game that hurt us, especially in the fourth quarter and overtime."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 1, 2019