Blake Griffin seems to be a magnet for physical play, taking a Serge Ibaka punch to the groin in the Clippers' stunning 101-99 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.
The contact from Ibaka in the first quarter may have been inadvertent, but Griffin has shown remarkable restraint considering the pounding he receives from opponents.
"I don't know if anyone has taken more punishment this year than Blake," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said Monday in a conference call. "In my opinion, some of them have been aboveboard and some have not been. People keep getting away with it."
Griffin finished with 25 points Sunday, playing nearly 40 minutes to help the Clippers tied the series, 2-2.
How does Rivers counsel Griffin to keep his composure?
"You can just say Zach Randolph," Rivers said. "It is hard to keep your cool. You're getting hit, I think at times illegal hits. I think he's been taking them all year and he's been doing a great job on it."
Randolph, a forward for the Memphis Grizzlies, was suspended by the NBA for throwing a punch at Thunder rookie Steve Adams in Game 6 of the first-round playoff series between the teams. He sat out Game 7, which Memphis lost, 120-109.
"If he reacts one time, then he hurts the team" Rivers said of Griffin. "That's what I've told him all year, that the tougher, stronger guy is the guy that is willing to take the hits for his team and keep playing."
"That's what Blake has done, so I'm very proud of him. We need him. Teams are trying to do anything they can to get him off the floor, try to get him to react, and he hasn't done that. He just keeps playing, and that's really important for us."
The NBA has not ruled on the Ibaka incident, which could be written off as an accidental contact or lead to suspension.
The Clippers and Thunder play Game 5 of the series Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.