Clippers power forward Blake Griffin works in the post against Jazz center… (Barbara Davidson / MCT )
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers has a simple explanation for Blake Griffin's recent dominance.
"He's good," Rivers said.
Griffin has been better than good for the last two weeks, averaging 26.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists in eight games. He has shot 53.8% from the field and 80.6% (58 for 72) from the free-throw line.
Asked if this stretch is the best he has played in his career, Griffin said, "Might be."
The Clippers are 6-2 during the stretch, and Griffin said, "The best part about it is we've won games."
Griffin was at his absolute best Saturday night against the Utah Jazz, scoring a season-high 40 points on 13-for-20 shooting and 14-for-17 free-throw accuracy. For the season, he is leading the Clippers in scoring (21.9 points a game, 12th in the NBA) and is second in rebounds (10.6).
"I think I'm learning to take what the defense gives you and not trying to force anything," Griffin said.
Perhaps most important, Griffin is making free throws at a career-best rate — 70%, up from 66% last season.
"It's the confidence to step up and hit free throws," Griffin said. "It's from my teammates telling me that. Also, it's the work I put in with our shooting coach, Bob Thate. He's done an unbelievable job and just stayed on me. For me, it's all confidence right now."
When Griffin first met with Rivers over the summer, the new coach told his All-Star power forward to make greater use of his quickness and dribbling ability.
"He said, 'I want you to face up. If you want to face up 10 times out of 10, face up 10 times out of 10. Why not?'" Griffin said. "So it's great to have that kind of confidence from a coach that allows you to do what you feel in the moment instead of kind of just telling you what to do."
Griffin's confidence is soaring, Chris Paul said after Saturday's game, a 98-90 Clippers victory.
"It's not even numbers-wise," Paul said. "I looked at his stat sheet after the game and said, 'Wow, he had 40.' I think his confidence right now is pretty high and rightfully so. It's great to see how he's dominating the game, whether it's jump shots or in the post or on the free-threw line. It's fun to watch."
They're playing hard
Rivers said he admired how hard the undermanned Jazz played Saturday. But, he added, his team plays hard too.
The Clippers played hard in losing at Golden State and Portland last week. And they played hard in defeating the hard-playing Jazz.
"I think we're getting that way for sure," Rivers said. "I think we've played hard most nights. When you have the talent that we have, it's more trying to get guys to play in the right spirit every night. And we're getting there. I think our team is really close.
"I've been saying it for a week or two. You can feel it. We're close to being like really good."