Blake Griffin responds differently now.
The Clippers forward scored 37 points and got into a fourth-quarter
skirmish with Suns forward P.J. Tucker in Los Angeles' 112-105
victory over Phoenix at Staples Center on Monday night.
Los Angeles won its eighth game in a row and beat the Suns for the
second time in the past week. The Suns, who lost to the Golden State
Warriors on Sunday night, fell for the second time in as many
Griffin and Tucker got into a scuffle with 5:28 left. The two got
tangled up on the floor under the Clippers' basket, and Tucker
appeared to punch Griffin before players from both teams intervened.
Tucker was ejected.
"When I was little and I would play my older brother and he was
whipping me and I couldn't do anything, I used to fight," Griffin
said. "I used to get mad, I used to grab him, I used to swing on
him, I used to do all of this stuff.
"Now, it's not really that frustrating. You just take it as another
tactic and you move on. Sometimes that's what it comes down to."
Tucker didn't want to talk about the incident.
"I've got nothing to say about it. I can't," said Tucker, who
finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. "Got ejected. That was it."
Clippers point guard Chris Paul and coach Doc Rivers defended
"He could have easily punched back and got to fighting, (but) he
didn't," said Paul, who finished with 17 points and 11 assists. "I
don't know how he does it, but that's pretty selfless of him. He
could do that and (then) he's suspended for a few games, and that
hurts our team. It's huge. He's stronger than me."
Rivers said, "Again, Blake gets hit as much as anybody in the
league. I think we've all seen it, and it gets old. I think he's
doing the right thing, I really do. He puts his arms up because if
he reacts the way some people say he should, then he gets thrown
out, gets suspended and it hurts the team.
"So, I know it's difficult for him, but he's doing the right thing
for the team."
Griffin, who had six rebounds and six turnovers, fouled out with
3:23 remaining. He connected on 14 of 16 shots from the floor and
nine of 10 free throws. He didn't score in the fourth quarter.
The Clippers (45-20) led by as much as 25 before the Suns rallied
late in the game.
The Suns (36-27) pulled within 109-105 after a layup by guard Goran
Dragic with 32.5 seconds remaining, but Los Angeles forward Matt
Barnes, who finished with 13 points, hit two free throws with 20.9
seconds left to seal the win for the Clippers.
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Guard Darren Collison scored 20 points for the Clippers, while
forward Danny Granger had his best game since joining Los Angeles as
a free agent, scoring 14 points. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan had
17 rebounds, three blocks and eight points.
Dragic led seven Phoenix players in double figures with 23 points,
20 of them in the second half. Forward Markieff Morris and guard
Gerald Green scored 16 apiece.
The Clippers stormed to a 62-45 halftime lead behind Griffin, who
scored 22 of his 29 first-half points in the first quarter. For the
half, Griffin was 11-for-12 from the floor in only 17 minutes.
Griffin's 22 points were the second-highest total in a first quarter
by a Clipper. Randy Smith set the mark of 23 against the Boston
Celtics on Oct. 20, 1973, and Baron Davis tied the record against
the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 29, 2010.
NOTES: Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who coached Suns G/F Gerald Green
in Boston, said the sixth-year player is improving due to maturity.
Green scored a career-high 41 points against the Oklahoma City
Thunder last week. "He just needed time to grow up. That's not
meaning he was a bad guy. He was just young," Rivers said. ...
Clippers G Jamal Crawford, who aggravated his strained left calf in
Saturday's win over the Atlanta Hawks, didn't play Monday. Crawford,
listed as day-to-day, also is expected to miss Wednesday's game
against the Golden State Warriors. ... Los Angeles G/F Jared Dudley
missed his third straight game due to back spasms. ... Phoenix G
Eric Bledsoe, out since Jan. 10 after undergoing arthroscopy surgery
on his right knee, is expected to return Wednesday when the Suns
host the Cleveland Cavaliers. ... Suns C Miles Plumlee returned
after missing two games with a right knee sprain. ... The game drew
a sellout crowd of 19,226.
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