Dallas Mavericks players to the 2011 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles.
Posted 21 February 2011 - 05:58 PM
Busy All-Star weekend finally catches up with Griffin.
LOS ANGELES -- "Blake Griffin sat on the elevated platform at the front of the interview room, drumming the fingers of his left hand on the table while scanning his brain for an answer.
"The last time I was this tired ..." he said, repeating the query.
Griffin paused for a couple seconds.
"Man," he picked up again, "it's a good question. I have no idea. Probably training camp."
Jumping over the hood of a sedan in the Dunk Contest is one thing, but clearing the real canyon leap of a starring role in All-Star weekend in his own town is quite another. The Clippers power forward played in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge on Friday, won the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday and had eight points, five rebounds and five assists in 15 minutes Sunday to help the West beat the East 148-143 at Staples Center.
Finding a new level of prominence with each week would be great news for the Clippers if it weren't also becoming a growing concern. The ability of the mild-mannered Griffin to handle a sudden thrust into the NBA spotlight had long been a storyline to track, the way he was being pulled in every direction while cruising to Rookie of the Year and bringing immeasurable new hope to a franchise that could use some, and now the answer is becoming clear.
The notoriety is taking a toll on Griffin and he still has another major moment ahead, the Tuesday game at Oklahoma City in his first pro appearance in his hometown. His fatigue Sunday may have been the culmination of the frenzied weekend, but that's only the latest moment. There has rarely been a chance to rest at any point on the calendar.
"Oh, man, I can barely move right now," he admitted from the head table. "I'm pretty tired. But it was great getting that win, and I had fun this weekend. No doubt it was fun and it was a good experience."
Posted 21 February 2011 - 06:02 PM
Saturday draws its most viewers ever.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- "All-Star Saturday night was watched by 8.1 million viewers, making it the most-watched event in its 26-year history.
TNT says its coverage drew 23 percent more viewers than its previous record of 6.5 million in 2009.
Saturday's event, highlighted by Clippers rookie Blake Griffin leaping over a car to win the slam dunk contest, drew a 4.4 national rating, a 13 percent increase over the 3.9 in 2009.
The viewers and ratings were both more than 40 percent higher than last year, when the event featured a lackluster dunk contest in Dallas."
Posted 21 February 2011 - 06:05 PM
he league's two best players do battle in our side-by-side analysis.
By Chris Palmer
ESPN The Magazine
"In this space we'll break down the best individual matchup of the week to see who's the better player. But toss out career accomplishments or potential. This is about ability -- strengths, weaknesses, intangibles -- and who gives his team the best chance to win. It's about the only thing that matters when you step on the court on any given night -- who's better right now.
Sure, there's not much at stake when
Here's what's crystal clear. The winner of this epic clash and the best player in the game are one in the same. For many years,
Posted 21 February 2011 - 06:07 PM
Griffin revives, revs up dunk contest.
Comments By John Hollinger.
LOS ANGELES --"Welcome back, dunk contest. We missed you.
An event that had become a tired, trite exhibition in recent years was saved from jumping the shark Saturday; instead, Blake Griffin jumped a car.
And while some may complain about home cooking in the judging, the dunk contest has always been about entertainment rather than objectivity. This was the most entertaining one in years, and it had the best execution to boot.
The general pattern of the last several contests was to feature the same dunks embellished only by increasingly hokey pranks. This year's, in contrast, didn't feature cape-wearing or other bizarre, attention-seeking props. What it did have, instead, was several spectacular jams that we'll remember for years.
Washington's JaVale McGee didn't win, but he raised the bar several notches for future dunk contests by completing two of the most difficult dunks ever seen in the first round. He did a dunk on two rims separated by several feet, a feat that only a player with his incredible wingspan could pull off, and then did a dunk with three basketballs, two of which he dunked himself and the third he alley-ooped.
On both, McGee had to "no look" dunk with his left hand to focus on catching the ball in mid-air with his right. In the final round, he added to his performance with a swooping, cradling reverse dunk that required him to tuck in his head to avoid impaling it on the backboard.
Unfortunately, he knew the outcome was all but predetermined after Griffin jumped the car in front of the home crowd. Facing an act he couldn't follow, McGee's final dunk was a perfunctory off the backboard slam.
"He came prepared with the car," said McGee, "and nothing's going to beat the car unless I bring a plane or something."
Griffin's contest will be remembered for jumping the car, but his other final-round slam was no slouch either -- an up-to-his-elbow dunk that compared favorably with a similar one by Vince Carter in the 2000 contest. Unlike Carter, Griffin threw it off the board to himself first. A close-up afterward showed a rim-shaped impression on his inner arm.
In truth, McGee should have been facing DeMar DeRozan in the final instead of Griffin, but the hometown Los Angeles crowd swayed the judges heavily in Griffin's favor. In particular, Griffin received 46 points on a first-round dunk from a pass off the side of the backboard. DeRozan did the same thing, except he passed the ball between his legs after the catch -- a far more difficult maneuver. Nonetheless, he only got 44 points for his effort. Given that Griffin beat out DeRozan by a point for entry into the final, it was a grievous judging error.
DeRozan's other jam, titled the "Show Stopper," was spectacular enough to earn a perfect score of 50 without any props. He threw a bounced alley-oop on the right side the court, caught it one hand, swooped the ball under the hoop and reversed it one motion without ever bringing it back into his left hand.
Serge Ibaka came in fourth despite also submitting two fairly strong dunks. He might have fared better if he'd thrown it down more emphatically on his first, where he took off from the free throw line and juuuuuuust nudged it over the rim. This wasn't one of those fake free throw line dunks we've seen in past contests; he legitimately took off from the foul line, but he got only 45 points.
Between Ibaka's free throw line dunk, the DeRozan swoop, the DeRozan between-the-legs dunk and the McGee dunks with two rims and three balls, there were five iconic dunks in the first round.
None of those, you'll notice, were by the winner. Griffin had two misses on what would have been spectacular windmill dunks on his first try and ended up settling for a less emphatic jam on the one he actually made. Nonetheless, he received an incredibly generous score of 49 for that one. Nonetheless, I'm not sure the excitement in the arena every time Griffin walked up could be accurately conveyed on television. It's not necessarily fair, but it's the reason he won.
The dunk contest was the last of four events on this All-Star Saturday. Aside from the dunk contest, James Jones' upset win in the 3-point contest the most memorable. To the delight of the Boston-hating crowd, he beat out Celtics Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in the final round. Jones' 20-point final round included four of the five moneyballs; in a remarkably consistent effort, he got exactly four points at every rack to top defending champion Pierce's 18. Allen scored 20 in the first round to top all competitors but was mathematically eliminated by the middle of the fourth rack in the finals. The other three competitors shot blanks in the first round. Daniel Gibson continued a forgettable year for Cleveland by starting with nine straight misses and finishing with just seven points, and Kevin Durant (six points) was so bad you almost wonder if there's something mechanically wrong with his shot. A number of misses were to the side, which shouldn't happen with a good shooter. Golden State's Dorell Wright mustered only 11 points; Pierce just topped him with 12 by making his final three shots.
Golden State's Stephen Curry won the Skills Challenge with a near-perfect final round, missing only one pass to easily beat Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook. Nonetheless, this event might be ready for the glue factory. Defending champ Derrick Rose only had two misses in the first round, but the Chicago speedster lazed through the course so slowly that he still failed to qualify for the finals. Fellow favorite Chris Paul seemed similarly under-motivated for this event -- Paul even missed the opening layup at the start of the course.
Finally, Atlanta won the Haier Shooting Stars competition, beating Team Texas in the final. The team of Al Horford, Steve Smith and Coco Miller prevailed when the Texans couldn't make a halfcourt shot despite trying for nearly a full minute.
Overall, however, this night will be remembered for the dunk contest, and especially for the car. In terms of technical execution, Griffin was only the third-best dunker of the night. But he's the biggest reason a flagging dunk competition has found new life."
Posted 21 February 2011 - 06:09 PM
"2011 NBA All-Star Score cards.
East Grades West Grades Rookies Sophomores Skills Challenge 3-Point Shootout Slam Dunk Grades by Kevin Arnovitz
Eric BledsoePG | Los Angeles Clippers
CHe turns the ball over on more than a third of his transition opportunities, and that pattern held true Friday. Bledsoe is blazing fast with sick hops but needs to dial down his game.
DeMarcus CousinsPF | Sacramento Kings
AIn addition to having one of the most thunderous dunks of the game, Cousins rumbled end to end with the ball for a layup and made beautiful music with fellow former Wildcat Wall. His 33 points led all scorers.
Derrick FavorsPF | New Jersey Nets
C+In what might have been his last game in a Nets uniform, Favors looked good on a couple of pick-and-pops but was the beta member of the rooks' frontcourt, getting far fewer opportunities than Griffin and Cousins.
Landry FieldsG | New York Knicks
A-He clearly is not the most athletic guy on the floor, but Fields displays patience, even in a glorified AAU game. He found seams, spotted up, didn't do anything silly and made smart choices.
Blake GriffinPF | Los Angeles Clippers
A-For a guy who was supposed to be conserving his energy, Griffin spent an awful lot of time above the rim and didn't disappoint the locals. He was on the receiving end of two alley-oops from Wall in the first half, then finished a pair from Neal in the second.
Wesley JohnsonSF | Minnesota Timberwolves
AWe've heard a lot about Johnson's versatility, and he brandished his full arsenal of skills against a permissive defense. He shot well, drove with abandon, and showed off the polished mechanics and explosiveness that vaulted him up the draft charts.
Greg MonroePF | Detroit Pistons
B+The Pistons big man was the official winner of the Good Sanitation Award for excellence in garbage collection. The opportunistic Monroe made a killing on second-chance buckets, following his teammates' misses.
Gary NealPG | San Antonio Spurs
AWe saw what Neal could do as a spot-up shooter at the 2010 summer league, and he replicated those performances. But we also saw some nice passes, a pretty teardrop through the lane and the off-balanced dagger to seal the game.
John WallPG | Washington Wizards
AThe game's MVP had the slickest play of the night when he bounced a 30-foot alley-oop pass off the floor to Griffin. Whether he was feeding his boy Cousins, slinging a behind-the-back pass in transition or floating alley-oops, Wall was an exquisite playmaker."
Posted 21 February 2011 - 06:21 PM
Blake Griffin content to dodge spotlight.
The Clippers' phenom had his moment to shine Saturday night in the dunk By By Arash Markazi.
LOS ANGELES -- "Blake Griffin and Kevin Love were teasing Kobe Bryant in the West locker room during halftime of Sunday's NBA All-Star Game. Looking at the box score, Love couldn't help but notice he had only two rebounds and Griffin four but Bryant had grabbed six.
"In the locker room, Kevin says, 'You got six rebounds,' and I said, 'Yeah, I got more than you,'" Bryant said. "He said that was probably the first and last time."
Bryant then decided to have fun with the two first-time All-Stars; finishing with a game-high 14 rebounds to go with his game-high 37 points en route to being named the game's MVP.
"After that, I just started stealing rebounds left and right," Bryant said. "Every time I got one, I started pointing at them. They were upset after a free throw it bounced right to me. I'm like, 'That's whacked, man, you have to go get the ball.'"
Blake Griffin was content to take a backseat to Kobe Bryant in Sunday's All-Star Game after basking in the spotlight earlier in the weekend.
Griffin smiled as he recalled his game-long repartee with Bryant, whose rebound total was more than that of Griffin and Love combined (9).
"Kevin and I were teasing him about it," Griffin said. "That's supposed to be us getting 14 rebounds."
If it looked as though Bryant was trying to upstage the youngest players in the game, it was all in good fun. If anything, Bryant looked more excited than ever before to pass the league's torch and the keys to the city on to Griffin.
Griffin won Saturday night's Slam Dunk Contest by jumping over a car while a choir sang in the background. It was the highlight of a whirlwind NBA All-Star Weekend for the Clippers rookie, who became the first player to be involved in three events in three days. He was easily the most popular player of the weekend; eliciting chants of, "We want Blake!" late in the Rookie Challenge and All-Star Game and the loudest ovation Staples Center has heard this year for his car-jumping dunk.
Bryant, who is normally defensive when it comes to the notion that he is past his prime, for the first time sounded like an old veteran ready to retire the throne to the upstart rookie in town.
"I've been there, you know what I mean? I had my time," Bryant said. "It's not about that for me at this point in my career. I've been there. It's very important for the game to continue to have the young stars emerge. It's great for the league to get behind Blake and what he's doing. It's important for me to step aside. I've had that."
IT'S L.A., AND IT'S LIVE
Griffin, who finished with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in 14 minutes, seemed more content to take a backseat than grab any kind of baton in his first NBA All-Star Game. There was a certain charm to the simplicity of Griffin's game Sunday. On a stage where every player seemed to be attempting the kind of highlight play Griffin has performed routinely this season, Griffin played a game without any bells and whistles. He instead was one of the few players on the court even attempting a high screen and roll, boxing out, setting picks and looking to pass before shooting.
"Before the game, I said I was going to let [Bryant] do his thing," Griffin said. "He just went out there and took over. It was fun. It was fun to watch a player get off like that and really get his shots. He was just feeling it."
If Griffin hadn't already hijacked nightly sports telecasts with his highlight dunk of the night this season, this weekend might have been considered Griffin's coming-out party, but no one in and around Staples Center needed an introduction to him. In fact, the most talked about event heading into the weekend was the Slam Dunk Contest.
The high-flying 26-year-old event was watched by a record television audience of 8.1 million total viewers, a 49 percent increase over last year and a 23 percent increase from 2009, which set the old record for the dunk contest. Viewership peaked at 10.4 million for Griffin's winning shot.
Griffin had high expectations for himself heading into this season, but no one, not even Griffin himself, could have expected the season he has had and the notoriety he has attained in a city ruled by Bryant and the Lakers.
"I wanted to be an All-Star by my second season, and it's kind of like my second year, I guess," Griffin said. "At the beginning of the year, I was wondering where I was going to fit in on our team and all that. I got the opportunity, and thankfully my teammates and the coaches have been great about helping me. It's kind of just come all at once to be honest."
Griffin, who missed last season with a broken left knee cap, and Bryant, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in the offseason, got to know each other this past summer while they rehabbed in the same facility.
"I love Blake, man," Bryant said. "We were doing therapy at the same place, so were sitting next to each other most of the time and got a chance to kind of talk when nobody was around, and I got a chance to know him before all this happened. I'm just very happy for him."
It was during those conversations on the training tables and while watching Griffin from afar this season that Bryant began to realize that the future of the league and Los Angeles would be in good hands when he finally decides to retire. It isn't a subject 32-year-old Bryant has spent much time reflecting on in the past, but he was surprisingly candid about it after the game.
"Like I've said, I've had my time," Bryant said. "It's his time now, and it's these young players' -- the [Kevin] Durants and so forth -- time to step forward and carry the league. I'm on my way out. It's important for them to carry the league."
Posted 21 February 2011 - 06:36 PM
Comments Associated Press.
"The chants of "We want Blake!" began in the upper bowl of Staples Center, with fans of Los Angeles Clippers rookie Blake Griffin begging for him to return to the court.
"I definitely heard it," he said. "It was cool, really cool actually, to get recognition from the fans like that. I thought they were all looking at me like, 'Why aren't you going in?' I didn't know that was the protocol, you get up immediately."
West coach Gregg Popovich was already planning to insert the hometown star when the noise wafted down to the floor.
"We were going to put him in in about one more minute and then the chants started so we had to put him in," he said. "It was great."
Griffin, who won the slam dunk contest by leaping over a car, enjoyed his first All-Star weekend.
"The things you remember the most are the time you spend with the other guys around you that are going through the same thing as you," he said.
Griffin was one of the busiest players, participating in the rookie-sophomore game Friday night, the dunk contest Saturday night and then playing more than 14 minutes Sunday. He had eight points, five rebounds and five assists -- short of the double-doubles he usually produces.
"I love Blake, man," game MVP and West teammate Kobe Bryant said. "This summer, I got a chance to get to know him a little bit because we were doing therapy at the same place, so we were sitting next to each other most of the time and got a chance to kind of talk when nobody is around."
0 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users