Not even a month in a shooting slump can shake Darrell Griffith. Asked again about his troubles, Griffith only smiles mischievously. "I'll tell you one thing," he says. "I'll bet opposing teams still won't leave me open."
Well, not Portland, anyway. Griffith ripped the Trail Blazers for a season-high 40 points in the Salt Palace in November, although his numbers are much different lately. As the Jazz return to Memorial Coliseum Tuesday night for the first time since their playoff victory last spring, Grifffith is struggling."He's pressing a little bit," says Coach Jerry Sloan. "I told him to try to relax - just catch the ball and shoot it."
The curious part of Griffith's slump is that the Hansen Theory is no longer valid - you know, the idea that Griffith was fine when he had the off-guard job to himself. Even with Hansen sidelined again and Griffith playing full time, he's yet to break out. His quiet 5-of-9 game at Golden State Saturday was the first time in 11 games and the second in 20 games that he'd made half his shots. More numbers:
Griffith's first 18 games: .481 shooting, 18.2 scoring average.
Griffith's second 18 games: .402 shooting, 13.9 average.
"It doesn't feel right - you know when your shot doesn't feel right," admitted Griffith. "I lost my rhythm, and it's a matter of getting that back."
Griffith's knee has not bothered him this season and he's still getting many of the same driving and spot-up shots, but he's had trouble posting up and working for shots. That's why Sloan is looking for more catch-and-shoot action from Griffith. "He'll get back in the groove," assures Sloan.
Convincing Griffith of that is not difficult. "Everybody goes through it," he mused. "You've just got to weather the storm . . . not that it isn't a concern, but it's not a big enough enough concern that I'm going to see a psychiatrist."
For now, we'll see what a visit to Clyde Drexler tonight does for him.
***** Tuesday night's game is the end of the Jazz's toughest schedule stretch. This is their 37th game of the season and 21st road game - no other Midwest Division contender has played more than 16 road games.
The Jazz are 10-9 under Sloan, who has coached only five home games. Starting next week, the Jazz will have 11 of 14 at home, and they've already clinched a winning first half of the season. The only troubling news is, they've never put together two winning halves in franchise history.