Blake Griffin embarrassed Pau Gasol.
I mean Pau should have been blushing something fierce from the shame of being dunked on as badly as he was. It was one of those moments in which your manhood is question, your rigidity is nonexistent and you can’t be considered a great basketball player because your softness makes Charmin look like blood diamonds. Not only did it happen right away to start off the game and set the tone for the evening, but it also happened again later as well.
The first one was pretty incredible. Blake saw a missed shot from Randy Foye, tracked down the misfire, and got a piggyback ride from Pau as he maliciously jammed the ball through the hoop. The force knocked down Gasol, sending him to the floor as Griffin avoided stepping on him (clearly more athletic than Kevin Love in this situation).
As Blake runs up the floor, he looks down at Pau as if he’s almost insulted to be on the same floor as the Spaniard. This IS a nationally televised game after all, and when the lights are big and the marquee is in bloom like it was, you need to remind people just how impressive you are.
The second dunk happened with about eight minutes left in the third quarter. A pick-and-roll on the right side of the floor with Caron Butler and Blake led to an open path on the right baseline. Bynum cut off the PnR early with his soft hedge and because of DeAndre Jordan’s exquisite lob catching capabilities, Pau rotated over from the weak side slowly.
One thing we’ve learned watching Blake Griffin during his almost two seasons now is you either rotate early or don’t rotate ever. Blake caught the bounce pass, launched himself into the air and assaulted Pau once again. This time, his off-arm elbow went into Gasol’s dome as he was chopping the rim in half with his dunk.
Gasol wanted a foul from the elbow as DeAndre Jordan decided to celebrate the moment by pushing his teammate. The push also probably prevented Blake from getting a taunting technical foul as he began to stand over Pau to exude his dominance.
These were two embarrassing moments for Pau. It helped contribute to an overall chippy night between the two of them. Both teams were shoving, clutching and getting riled up. Blake and Pau often found themselves tangled up and on the verge of committing frustration fouls to let the other one know this wouldn’t be tolerated any longer. It was a night of circling each other outside a bar and begging for the other guy to throw the first punch.
What was lost in the entire night was how, once again, Pau Gasol got the better of Blake Griffin over the course of 48 minutes.
Pau owns Blake Griffin. Now, I know Griffin pwned (as the kids say) Pau on two vicious dunks on the night, but Pau still tells Blake which table he’s allowed to sit at in the cafeteria and when he’s allowed to speak on a basketball court.
Griffin finished with 15 points on 7/16 shooting and just three free throw attempts. He also had 14 rebounds and just one assist. The main reason Blake’s scoring numbers look so inefficient is because Pau defends Blake better than most do. As the purveyor of length Ethan Sherwood Strauss would attest to, it’s because Pau has Stretch Armstrong length that can be molded and pulled in almost any direction, while the T-Rex arms of Blake Griffin make it remarkable he can dunk at all, let alone clap his hands together.
Of Griffin’s 16 field goal attempts, Gasol defended him on 11 of them with Bynum defending on the other five. Four times, the length of Gasol and/or Bynum left Blake resorting to an odd spinning jumper in the lane of some sort – almost a desperation plea to his own athleticism to make something happen because he was out of ideas. He made five of his 11 shots against Pau, often swallowed up by the Spanish length.
Considering he made his first three shots of the game against Pau, finishing two for his final eight wasn’t exactly earth shattering, even if his two dunks were. On the season, NBA Statscube tells us that Blake is shooting 50% from the field when Gasol is on the floor and 60% when he’s off the floor. He’s also grabbing 5.5 fewer rebounds and taking 4.1 fewer free throw attempts per 36 minutes.
This isn’t some new trend either. Last season, he managed just 40% shooting when Pau was on the floor, had 4.2 fewer rebounds and 3.1 fewer free throw attempts per 36 minutes. When Gasol wasn’t on the floor, he managed 44% shooting. Pau knows his own length and knows he doesn’t have to try to match Blake’s athleticism. He can stay home on fakes and still bother any face-up jumper Griffin may settle into taking.
Sure, if they meet at the rim for coffee and to hash things out then Blake is going to flip the table and make a scene of it all. The problem is that just doesn’t happen as often in a basketball game as you’d hope for as a Clippers fan.
There were two plays last night in which Blake Griffin obliterated Pau Gasol and got the Internet rubbernecking. But Pau has nothing to be embarrassed about.
He dominated Blake Griffin once again.