Clippers power forward Blake Griffin recoils after getting fouled by Thunder… (Sue Ogrocki / Associated…)
The whispers about Blake Griffin's physical play and highlight dunks that have embarrassed opponents have now become full-blown conversations.
It's clear that opposing players don't like getting dunked on by Griffin, then seeing him pose over them. And then, beyond that, having to see the highlights over and over of the spectacular play.
As a result, opponents are being more physical with Griffin, and in some cases hard, flagrant fouls have been committed against the Clippers' All-Star power forward.
"I was told by somebody — I ain't going to say who — he is Public Enemy No. 1 as far as dunking," Chris Paul said after Thursday night's game in Phoenix. "We try to protect him. He gets beat up on the offensive end."
In Griffin's eyes, it's one thing to be physical when feet are on the floor and he's fighting to get off a shot or to grab a rebound. But it's another thing for a player such as Suns reserve center Robin Lopez to chase him down from behind on a fastbreak and hook him around the neck rather than give up a dunk.
Lopez was given a flagrant-two foul and ejected from Thursday night's game.
With the playoffs a week away, Griffin is aware that games will be even more physical. But he's still not happy with players taking shots at him.
"The playoffs are going to be full of hard fouls, but there's a difference between a hard foul when you're going for the ball or going for someone's head," Griffin said after the game. "You expect hard fouls, but not like that."
The Clippers didn't practice Friday, giving Griffin time to rest his strained neck — the result of Lopez's hard foul.
For the record:
An earlier version of this report said that Hornets forward Jason Smith was suspended for two games, including one against the Clippers at Staples Center on March 20. It was on March 26.
His teammates are as tired of the flagrant and hard fouls as Griffin is.
"He can't take no more," Mo Williams said. "And that's the last thing the league needs is for that to happen. I think it's a matter of coming from the top. They've got to control it. It's just amazing how they go for his neck like that."
The Clippers don't play again until Sunday when they play host to the New Orleans Hornets at Staples Center. That will be the final regular-season home game for the Clippers and Griffin's first time facing New Orleans since Hornets forward Jason Smith was called for a flagrant-two foul committed against Griffin in a March 22 game.
Smith was suspended for two games, one of which was against the Clippers at Staples Center on March 26.
"We're starting to get used to that," Paul said of the hard fouls against Griffin. "They are doing it on a regular basis now."
Paul was asked what Griffin or the rest of the Clippers would do if the rough play continues.
"He better not get hurt," Paul said. "That's all I know. I understand physical fouls and stuff. We all watch enough basketball. You can foul a guy and catch him and stuff like that. Half the time when he dunks, people just smack him, and [the officials] don't call it.
"I stay out there calming him down. You see me. I'm always like, 'B, just be cool.' And sometimes he gets mad at me for just telling him that, which is understandable. God forbid he gets hurt because it's getting crazy."