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Clippers' Blake Griffin amazes even his teammates

The performance of the 6-9 forward, known for his great dunks and ability to handle the ball, has been the highlight of the team's dismal 1-13 season.

November 22, 2010|By Lisa Dillman, Los Angeles Times

Even the setup man in the Great Dunk Moment was moved to curiosity when he got home after Saturday's Clippers-Knicks game.

Randy Foye wanted to check out the Blake Griffin show, in particular, the dunk on Timofey Mozgov, the one on which Griffin practically used the rookie center like a stepladder.

(Only Griffin ignored the first few steps and went right to the top.)

"I went on YouTube last night to see if they had it up there, and they already had it up," Foye said Sunday after practice. "I checked it out because one of them I gave him the pass."

Foye, a student of history, also remembered that he set up Griffin's first points in the NBA. You know, that dunk against the Portland Trail Blazers, the one looking tame in comparison with the defacing of Mozgov in the third quarter and later Danilo Gallinari.

"Yesterday we laughed on the court. I said: 'We struck again,'" Foye said.

The lightness of being Blake Griffin has been the highlight of a rapidly sinking Clippers season. They have won just once in 14 games and, well, coming to town next is one-loss New Orleans.

First, a review of Griffin's achievements should be in order. He had 44 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists against the Knicks, putting him in classic company. Only three other rookies have put together games in the 40-point, 15-rebound category since the NBA-ABA merger, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Those three happen to be Shaquille O'Neal, in 1992-93 with Orlando; David Robinson, in 1989-90 with San Antonio; and, lest we forget, Michael Jordan in 1984-85 with the Bulls. The 44 points are also a franchise rookie record for points in a game, passing Eric Gordon's 41 two seasons ago.

"It means nothing if you don't have a win by that game," Griffin said Sunday, repeating some of his postgame thoughts. "So hopefully that will help my confidence; that will help everything. I think I learned a lot last night, not only from the amount of film I watched on Amare [Stoudemire], but also from seeing him do some of his moves and stuff. Because I think we're kind of similar in the way we play a little bit."

One of the classiest moments came when the Knicks' Stoudemire, a five-time All-Star, acknowledged Griffin's air show with a slight nod. The combatant was taking a second in the mano a mano dunk-a-thon.

Griffin had once attended Stoudemire's skills camp in Arizona between his freshman and sophomore years at Oklahoma.

"At the camp, one of his guys gave me his number and said if I ever wanted to come work out with him, I could," Griffin said. "But I never really got around to doing that, just because I had to go back to school and all that. He just told me to keep working, and last night the same thing.

"We were kind of going at it for a while, but like I said, it doesn't mean anything if you don't get that win."

Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro wasn't surprised by hearing Griffin was talking about getting the win, not hitting 50 points next.

"That's his mind-set. The numbers are going to come. He missed a few free throws, or he would have had 50," Del Negro said.

Foye has little doubt Griffin will "easily" average 30 points and 15 rebounds in the NBA and thought he was the most athletic player in the league, along with the Magic's Dwight Howard.

He got a preview of Griffin's abilities when he ran into former Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy and his son Baker Dunleavy at Villanova last summer.

"To tell you the truth, I didn't know he could handle the ball like that," Foye said. "He [Mike Dunleavy] told me, 'You're going to have fun playing with the kid, Blake.'

"First thing I said, 'I know he can jump really high.' And he said, 'That kid can handle the ball.' Sometimes if Blake is running and I've got the ball at half court, I just toss it up to him because he can handle it. Most bigs can't guard him because he's about 6-9, gets low to the ground and is really explosive."

Foye was asked whether Griffin knows how good he can be just yet.

"I don't think so," Foye said. "I think last night, we saw it."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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