If Blake Griffin could design the Clippers’ schedule, it would include ample practices between games.
That would mean extra time for the power forward to work with shooting coach Bob Thate to refine the stroke of one of the most dynamic players in the NBA.
“I’m a big believer in putting in the work,” Griffin said, “and any time I get to get in the gym and get consecutive days or more days than not in the gym, it just gives me confidence.”
An assured Griffin continued to be an unstoppable one Saturday afternoon at Staples Center in the Clippers’ 120-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
Griffin made 11 of 15 shots on the way to 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and it didn’t qualify as an anomaly. Over the last two games, he has averaged 24.5 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while making 20 of 28 shots (71.4%).
What’s sparked the surge in accuracy? Well, for one thing, some practice time.
A lighter game schedule allowed the Clippers to squeeze three practices into six days last week after not having practiced once in the preceding 28 days.
The Clippers looked sharper all the way around for a second consecutive game, continuing to play at an accelerated pace largely generated by defensive stops.
“We’re a very talented team offensively,” said Clippers forward Matt Barnes, who scored 18 points. “When we add that defensive energy and get out in transition, we’re the best team in the world.”
The Clippers held Rajon Rondo, the Mavericks’ recently acquired point guard, to two points on one-for-11 shooting in his first game against former mentor Doc Rivers since the coach departed Boston in the summer of 2013.
Clippers reserve forward-center Spencer Hawes picked up two of his three blocks while defending Rondo and center DeAndre Jordan blocked a shot by Dallas’ Chandler Parsons without even jumping.
Jordan (13 points, 15 rebounds) saved much of his hopping for the game’s final minutes, when fans chanted “We want Turkoglu!” in reference to increasingly seldom-used forward Hedo Turkoglu. Rivers did not oblige, though the chant prompted a smile from the veteran player.
A game that was taut in the early going turned into a rout after the Clippers (25-12) scored the final seven points of the second quarter and opened the third quarter with a 14-2 run.
“That’s a killer,” said Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle, who was put out of his misery when he was ejected midway through the third quarter after picking up his second technical foul.
Chris Paul added 17 points and 13 assists for the Clippers, who finished with all five starters scoring at least 13 points. That was more than enough to offset Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki’s 25 points.
Rivers said the Mavericks’ plan to trap Griffin whenever he caught the ball in the post backfired because of his smart passing and prompted the Clippers to seek him inside even more than usual.
“We knew that would create a two-on-one and he kept making the right decision,” Rivers said of Griffin. “It’s a good weapon to have.”
Rivers said the Clippers had hardly arrived, even after putting together their most impressive back-to-back victories while resembling the team many had expected to see earlier this season.
“We’re not there,” he said. “We’re just getting better.”
Griffin credited the resurgence to spending as much time on the practice court as the home court.
“I just believe that when you prepare for a game it just kind of clears your head, it clears any doubts, it gives you confidence if you have been struggling,” Griffin said. “That’s just kind of how it is for me.”