Blake Griffin on Rockets: ‘You take the things that you need to take from it, and you forget the rest’

Clippers' Blake Griffin has the ball stolen by Houston's Pablo Prigioni, left, as Trevor Ariza helps on defense during Game 7 of the teams' playoff series in May.

Clippers’ Blake Griffin has the ball stolen by Houston’s Pablo Prigioni, left, as Trevor Ariza helps on defense during Game 7 of the teams’ playoff series in May.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Blake Griffin isn’t still licking his wounds after the Clippers’ epic collapse against the Houston Rockets last season.

“You take the things that you need to take from it, and you forget the rest,” Griffin said Friday, a day before the Clippers host the Rockets at Staples Center at 7:30 p.m.

After beating the then-reigning NBA champion San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs in 2015, the Clippers took a 3-1 series lead over the Rockets in the second round. It appeared as though the Clippers were going to make the Western Conference Finals for the first time in their then-45-year franchise history, but they lost three games in a row to allow the Rockets to become just the ninth team in the NBA to win a series after that type of deficit.


“I wasn’t really like tormented by it, but I think about it,” Griffin said. “Just like every other year when you lose in the playoffs, you think about it. Maybe I thought about it a little bit longer, but at the end of the day I moved on. Summer at the end of the day for me was about getting better, making changes.”

Griffin, along with the rest of his teammates, was singing a different tune in May. After their stunning exit from the playoffs, the players were broken. Here’s what they had to say:

Said Griffin: “Almost doesn’t count.”

Said Chris Paul: “So close. I don’t even know what that means anymore... Getting close ain’t good enough.”

Said DeAndre Jordan: “It was devastating. It’s really disappointing...I can’t put it into words right now.”

Said J.J. Redick: “You never want to equate sports with death, but it does feel like a wake or a funeral.”

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Said Jamal Crawford: “Right now it feels like a blur. It feels like a bad dream.”

Said Matt Barnes: “To be up 3-1 and to lose three straight, for some of us, time is running out so it’s tough.”

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers delivered a powerful speech to his guys, telling them that when he was a player he had his heart broken for 13 straight years every time his team fell short of winning a title. Said Rivers in May: “Every year I’d give my heart completely to the team, and every year it got completely broken. I told them it was worth it.”

He hasn’t talked much about the loss since then.

After the Clippers were eliminated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round of the playoffs in 2014, Rivers used that series as motivation for the team the following year. Rivers hasn’t done the same thing with the Rockets series this season.

“I mean, we had the talk at DJ’s house in the hostage situation, other than that, not much,” Rivers said, referring to when a Clippers contingent went to Jordan’s home in Houston in July to convince him to return to the Clippers.

The Clippers acquired former Rockets forward Josh Smith over the summer. Smith played a key role in helping the Rockets win that series, after scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter of Game 6, and 15 points in Game 7.

When asked if Smith will serve as something of an assistant coach before Saturday’s game, Rivers said he better.

“If he doesn’t it will be very disappointing,” Rivers said. “If he didn’t have any intel, then we’re worried about Josh.”


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