Posted on February 10, 2018, by Travis Pulver
Every player that gets traded wants to do one thing—beat the team that gave him up. Blake Griffin got his first opportunity to do just that when the Pistons welcomed the Clippers to town Friday night. For the first three-quarters of the game, it looked like the Pistons were going to get the win.
But then the fourth quarter happened.
The game had been a close, hard-fought one for three quarters leading into the final 12 minutes. After one, the Clippers had held a 31-30 lead. But the Pistons got the better of them in the second and led 56-52 at the half. Detroit led by as much as eight during the third only to see the lead disappear when Tobias Harris hit a 27-footer to tie the game at 70-70 with 3:35 remaining.
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By the time the end of the period rolled around, the Pistons had regained a three-point lead.
At this point, fans of the home team likely thought they were in for a heck of a finish. Their team had been playing hard against the Clippers all night. There was no reason to think otherwise.
But then the Pistons failed to make more than one basket from the floor in the first half of the quarter. As a result, the Clippers were able to go on a 15-5 and essentially take over the game. When Andre Drummond finally hit their second shot of the quarter from the floor with 5:22 to play, the Clippers were up 92-87.
With over five minutes to play and down by only five, the game was still within reach. But the Pistons couldn’t find their game again. When Ish Smith hit a three-pointer with 5.5 seconds to play it was too little, too late.
The Clippers easily outscored the Pistons in the fourth, 31-15, to secure a 108-95 win.
“We didn’t, obviously, play the way we wanted to. I didn’t play the way I wanted to,” Griffin said after the game (ESPN). “But that’s the NBA. We had a good five-game run, and we’ll get back to work tomorrow.”
Griffin was one of six Pistons players, including all five starters, to score in double figures with 19 points. Reggie Bullock also had 19 followed by Ish Smith with 15. Andre Drummond chipped in 12.
Austin Rivers talked about his former teammate after the game:
“Obviously, he played with a lot of emotion tonight, and rightfully so,” he said (ESPN). “I think anybody can understand when you play against your old team, that’s what everybody does — let alone, a week after it happens, and obviously, the way everything happened. So it was weird playing against him.”
Danilo Gallinari and Austin Rivers led the Clippers starters with 16 points. But they were led from the bench with Lou Williams scoring 26 and Montrezl Harrell chipped in 18.
With the win, the Clippers improved to 3-1 since trading Griffin and 28-25 on the season. If the playoffs were to start, they would be the No. 7 seed. But they are only .001 percentage points ahead of the Denver Nuggets and a half-game ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans.
The loss was the first for the Pistons since acquiring Griffin and saw their record fall back to .500, 27-27. They are a full game behind the 76ers for the No. 8 seed.
The Clippers will try to keep the good times rolling Saturday night against the 76ers in Philadelphia. Detroit will have to wait until Sunday to get back on the right side of the scoreboard when they face the Atlanta Hawks.