Each step along the way during the Clippers’ five-game trip, there were different ways that Blake Griffin elevated his game.
And all of it spoke to Griffin’s ascension since returning from right-knee surgery that sidelined the power forward for 18 games.
“The first thing you lose, for me, is always my rhythm,” Griffin said after the Clippers defeated the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Monday night. “It’s just the stupid, little turnovers, trying to do too much. Being patient — I think that’s the biggest thing I found is my patience throughout the game. It’s about not trying to force things here and there.”
The game started to slow down for Griffin on the trip as the Clippers produced a 3-2 record.
Griffin was scoring with regularity, including a season-high 32 points at New York.
Griffin displayed his all-around skills. He had a triple-double at Toronto with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and a near triple-double at Charlotte with 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.
Griffin was also efficient, making 11 of 18 shots at Utah.
“When you’re more patient, it definitely slows down,” Griffin said. “But getting out in transition has been big for us, too, because we’ve gotten some stops, especially these last two games.”
During the five-game trip, Griffin averaged 25.4 points per game, 9.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists. He was named the Western Conference player of the week by the NBA for his play last week.
He shot 51% from the field and 50% (five of 10) from three-point range.
So while Chris Paul (left-thumb surgery) recovers from his injury, Griffin has taken on more responsibility.
“I think we all do,” Griffin said. “You can’t replace a guy like CP with one guy, so you have to do it by committee. So I think we all feel a little bit more responsibility, a bigger load. Guys have stepped up.”
Like Paul, Griffin is a willing passer.
He has become especially adept at finding DeAndre Jordan rolling down the lane for dunks.
Griffin is also proficient at finding J.J. Redick and other shooters on the wing for open looks.
“His passing is huge,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said about Griffin. “He’s one of the best passers in the league; and obviously when you don’t have your point guard, who may be the best passer in the league, you need him.”
VS ATLANTA HAWKS
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 570, 1330.
Records: Clippers 34-21; Hawks: 32-23.
Record vs. Hawks: 1-0.
Update: The Clippers are seeking to extend their winning streak to four consecutive games before taking a week off for the All-Star break. … The Hawks share the basketball very well. They average 24 assists per game, sixth-best in the NBA. The Hawks are strong on defense, allowing 104.3 points per game, eighth-best in the league.