Introductions to the league were made by Mr. Carlos Boozer and his sidekick, Mr. Paul Millsap.
Utah Jazz basketball is always going to be a physical go, and it was just another rugged chapter around the basket in the early education of Clippers rookie Blake Griffin.
"He [Boozer] was tough. I got caught under there several times and he killed me," Griffin said after the Clippers' 103-96 victory over the Jazz on Saturday night at Staples Center.
"They do a lot of the vet stuff. They do it well, and that helps."
Boozer had 20 points and eight rebounds in 31-plus minutes, but Griffin had his moments too. He scored 16 points and had eight rebounds in 33:35 of action. The Clippers (4-1) also had 16 points from both Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman and nine assists from Baron Davis.
Griffin, who made his second preseason start, picked up his energy level significantly in the second half.
"He played hard and he's learning all the time," Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "He got into a crowd sometimes, like you said, 'Welcome to the NBA.' He came out with a fat lip on one of the no-calls. That's just the way it works."
Griffin was clearly upset at various turns and didn't try to hide it. "Oh, yeah, you'll see that a lot. I play like that sometimes," he said.
He unleashed a furious dunk late in the final seconds of the third quarter and laid a withering glare on one of the replacement officials.
"We were having a nice little talk," Griffin said, tongue in cheek. "He said, 'Let me see the meanest face you've got, so I gave it to him.'
"That was about a nine on a one-to-10 scale. I don't know if you'll see 10. That might have been an eight and a half. I haven't unveiled a 10 in a while."
The injured Marcus Camby thought Griffin held his own.
"It was interesting to see. I wanted to see him go against Boozer a lot. I see a lot of Boozer in his game. He's way more athletic than Boozer, don't get me wrong," Camby said. " . . . I know he felt he should have got more calls than he did. But I told him, he's a rookie, he's not going to get those calls."
The Clippers were celebrating the win (their fourth straight), yelling at the TV set during the Angels-Yankees game, and Camby was still able to smile despite a sprained left ankle. Sebastian Telfair (hamstring) is also still out.
Officially, Camby will be out for one to two weeks. But he has other ideas. "I'll be ready for the [Oct. 27] opener," he said. "I'm not missing that, especially since I missed it last year."
His injury happened near the end of practice on Friday.
"I don't know how bad it was," Camby said. "I had Craig Smith land on me. It was pretty tough. Gotta stay away from that guy. Rhino? Yeah, he just comes charging."
Said Smith, laughing: "They call me a freight train. People get in my way. I don't know. I'm just a physical-type player."
The bearded one
Baron Davis looks like a hockey player growing an impressive playoff beard.
Considering the way he was passing the ball, racking up nine assists against the Jazz, maybe BD should stand for Bearded Distributor. He added 10 points in 25 minutes.
His intimidating look, however, has not gone down well with his grandmother. "She hates it," Davis reported. "She wants me to be clear-cut."
He laughed, almost menacingly: "I look like a werewolf."
Maybe Davis is channeling Warren Zevon. But "Werewolf of Playa Vista" doesn't quite have the same ring as "Werewolves of London."