Monday, January 28, 2013
LOS ANGELES — Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe combined to help the Los Angeles Clippers end a four-game losing streak.
Griffin had 23 points and nine assists, helping the Clippers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 96-83 on Sunday night and get even for a one-point loss to the Trail Blazers a day earlier.
“It’s everybody’s job on this team to step up, and that’s what I’ve tried to do,” Griffin said. “Chris is a huge part of our team and he directs the game from the point guard spot. He has the ball in his hands during 85 percent of our offense. So when he goes out, our whole dynamic changes. But other guys have stepped up. Eric Bledsoe’s done a great job.”
Bledsoe had 10 points, five assists and five rebounds in his seventh start, while Chris Paul missed his fourth straight game and seventh in the past nine because of a bruised right kneecap.
Bledsoe played 36 minutes without committing a turnover.
“I just played more aggressive and didn’t worry about it,” Bledsoe said. “My last couple of games I was playing kind of passive, but tonight I did a good job of just staying aggressive. My teammates just told me to just stay in attack mode, and everybody else on the team played great. At the end of the day, turnovers are going to happen. You can’t play every game without having a turnover.”
Griffin powered the Clippers to a 55-50 halftime lead with 15 points, including a fast break dunk off a long pass from DeAndre Jordan just before intermission.
Griffin also had an assist on six of the team’s first nine baskets, including Jordan’s alley-oop dunk and 3-pointers by Caron Butler and Matt Barnes.
“Our lead assist guy is not around, so we have to run some more things through Blake at the elbow and let him make plays for us,” coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He draws so much attention, but he’s unselfish and he’s making the good basketball plays and making other players better. That’s what All-Stars do in this league.”
Griffin didn’t get his first rebound in this game until after his sixth assist.
“Blake sharing the basketball made the game easier for everybody,” Del Negro said. “He was kind of like a ‘point forward’ for us tonight. We had 33 assists and shot the ball well, which we haven’t been doing. We were unselfish in a lot of areas.”
The Clippers have the third-best record in the NBA at 33-13 and are 2½ games behind San Antonio in the Western Conference.
Lamar Odom had eight points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
“We needed any kind of a win right now,” Del Negro said. “We’re trying to accumulate as many as we can, and then we’ll count them up at the end of the year and see where we’re at.
“We obviously executed a little bit better and got solid production from several guys. I liked our intensity in the second half, and we did a better job guarding the 3-pointers.”