And the Clippers were going to have to summon all they had while playing against a team, the
Griffin scored a season-high 40 points on 13-for-20 shooting, overpowering
Griffin even made his first 11 free throws before missing one in the fourth quarter. He finished 14 for 17 from the line. He also had 10 rebounds. His only downside: Eight turnovers.
"We're getting him the ball in the right spots," Coach
The Clippers had to play all out until the end to make sure they didn't lose three straight games for the first time all season.
With 2 minutes 33 seconds left, right after a Griffin turnover, Paul fouled
But Griffin responded, scoring on a left-handed dunk off a pass from Paul.
When Paul made two free throws with 1:37 left for a 97-90 Clippers lead, they could finally breathe easily. Or easier, anyway. .
The Clippers were coming off two physically and emotionally taxing games, Christmas night against the Warriors and Thursday night against the Trail Blazers, two of the NBA's better teams. The Clippers lost by two points at Oakland and in overtime in Oregon.
But the Jazz was not the kind of team to inspire the Clippers, given its poor record (now 9-24) and the fact it was playing the second of back-to-back games.
Also, the Clippers — who didn't have backup center
So when Griffin picked up two fouls early in the first quarter, forcing him to the bench, it was another sign of how difficult this night was going to be for the Clippers.
"It was just one of those nights," Rivers said. "We just made enough plays to win the game."