I didn't think we did a great job spacing for Blake. —Clippers coach Doc Rivers
LOS ANGELES — In a duel between the Jazz's deliberate style and the Los Angeles Clippers' search for a faster tempo, one fact emerged during Saturday night's first game of their NBA playoff series at the Staples Center.
Blake Griffin plays at his own pace.
The Clippers' stellar forward demonstrated his agility and athleticism while compiling 26 points, seven rebounds and three assists during the Jazz's 97-95 victory on Joe Johnson's shot at the final buzzer.
Griffin began the game on a pace to set a personal best for points in a playoff game. The six-year veteran scored 20 points in the first half, 11 in the first quarter. At that rate, Griffin would have exceed the 35 points he scored against the Golden State Warriors on April 21, 2014.
During his first-half outburst, Griffin displayed offensive versatility. The former Oklahoma star made both of his shots from 3-point range, drove the lane numerous times and converted both of his free throws.
Griffin revealed his range with two different types of baskets within 33 seconds. After making an open 3-point shot, Griffin twisted his body while driving the lane, then thrust his right arm to the glass for a lay-in.
The 6-foot-10 forward does not reserve his ability exclusively for scoring. Early in the second quarter, Griffin continued a quick passing sequence by using his right hand to re-direct Chris Paul's pass to J.J. Redick, who ended the possession with a 3-point shot from the left corner.
Griffin's play provided one example of the definition of pace used by Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
"For us, pace is power and force because we have bigs with speed and bigs with size," Rivers said. "The more they roll, the harder they roll. It doesn't mean running up and down the floor. That's not going to happen, anyway."
Rivers then provided Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan as Exhibits A1 and A2.
"When D.J. rolls with force and power, we become powerful because of his size and speed," Rivers said. "Blake runs and rolls with pace. There are only a few bigs in the league who can do that, and we have two of them. So we have to take advantage of it."
But in the second half, the Jazz defused Griffn's power.
"I didn't think we did a great job spacing for Blake," Rivers said. "We used two timeouts to talk about it. When Blake drives and there are that many hands in there, that tells you we're not spaced right, so we have to do a better job there."