By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com
OAKLAND — Bull 2, china shop 1.
Blake Griffin was back to destroying the Warriors and anything else in his way Thursday night, including the mood inside Oracle Arena and Golden State’s brief hold on home-court advantage in the series.
Maybe even some actual dishes, too.
Awesome, hopefully enlightening, an ascension to the next level of stardom — it’s been that kind of rampage and we’re only three games in. Before the first round opened in Los Angeles, Warrior Klay Thompson called Griffin a bull in a china shop, a flopper and generally out of control.
Blake Superior answered by tearing through only one thing: the opponent.
Griffin made commendable strides to his game all regular season, even if too few people outside the league itself noticed because they were fixated on the sparkly Lob City storyline. But his play in these playoffs is the kind of performance that should make his improvements impossible to overlook. The general public is finally seeing Griffin’s offensive arsenal expand miles at a time.
As bad as Game 1 was with the six fouls in 19 minutes, Griffin still had 16 points in that time and made six of 13 attempts.
In Game 2, he had a playoff career-best 35 points on 13-of-17 shooting in 30 minutes.
Thursday night, Griffin had 15 points in 20 first-half minutes and finished with 32 points (on 15-for-25 shooting) and eight rebounds in 44 minutes as the Clippers took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with a 98-96 victory.
“He’s just been great,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s making jump shots. The bank shot that he’s added to his game facing the basket has just taken him to a different level because it’s very difficult now to guard him. If you get up on him, he goes around you. If you back off of him, he can use the glass. I keep going back to his work. Tomorrow, we won’t do much, but he’ll be in the gym. I can guarantee you that. It’s just who he is. He’s very hungry.”
The Warriors have reason to be concerned with the Griffin matchup every direction they turn. What’s most concerning is that they are defending him according to the game plan … and it doesn’t matter. Griffin is crashing through them anyway.
Like a bull in a china shop.
“He’s playing at a high level right now,” Golden State coach Mark Jackson said. “He’s making plays, he’s making shots. We forced him to be a jump shooter, he’s making jump shots. On the block, he’s aggressive. He’s having an outstanding series, capping off an outstanding year. We’re giving him different looks. He’s making tough shots.”