With Chris Paul Out, Blake Griffin Takes The Lead

by Adam Smith

Blake Griffin has always been a quiet leader. When Chris Paul is yelling instructions or screaming for his teammates to huddle, Griffin can usually be found standing beside the rest of his teammates listening. “I’m not ever one of those guys that’s going to yell at guys,” Griffin said. “It’s about helping them out.” On Monday, Griffin helped out the Los Angeles Clippers by morphing into the vocal leader they were missing. With Paul sidelined for the game with a strained left hamstring, Griffin took over and made sure his play, and his voice, were heard loud and clear in leading the Clippers to a 117-101 Game 1 win over the Houston Rockets.

Griffin notched his second straight triple-double — and third in his past eight postseason games — with 26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists. He became the first player with back-to-back triple-doubles in the postseason since Jason Kidd accomplished the feat in 2002 and just the third non-guard with back-to-back triple-doubles in the postseason since John Havelick in 1967 and Wilt Chamberlain (twice) in 1968. No one has grown up more on the suddenly mature Clippers this postseason than Griffin, and Monday was a perfect example. With Paul in street clothes and on the bench, Griffin took over the team’s point guard duties in the second half, recording 10 of his 13 assists after a halftime in which he got in front of the team and implored his teammates to trust each other.

“We’ve always had a lot of trust in Blake,” guard Jamal Crawford said. “If we could draw anything from CP going down, it was that Blake had grown as a playmaker and a guy that we could obviously play through. He knows when to score, he knows when to set his teammates up, and that’s why he’s one of the best players in the league. I think the world is truly seeing how good he is, and there are still levels for him to go, and he’s only 26. He’s as good as there is in the league, and he’ll continue to get better.”

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