During his two appearances in OKC last season, former Oklahoma great Blake Griffin strutted the stuff that made him the unanimous selection as NBA Rookie of the Year.
He averaged 31.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists and shot 24 for 35 (. 686) from the field in the Thunder's home gym.
In a 114-91 loss on Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena, however, Griffin struggled for seven points, seven rebounds, three assists and shot just 3 for 11 (. 272).
It was a career-low in points for Griffin and marked only the second time in 128 career games he had been held under double-digits, the other being last March at Memphis (eight points).
“I just missed a lot of shots, a lot of easy ones, ones I normally make,” the 6-foot-10, 251-pound Griffin explained afterward. “They have good team defense to start with. For the most part, with the exception of Randy (Foye) and Nick (Young) towards the end there, we just missed a lot of shots.”
In a 112-100 victory over OKC in Los Angeles on Jan. 30, Griffin had 22 points, seven rebounds, two blocked shots and the dunk of the year over Thunder center Kendrick Perkins.
On Wednesday, Griffin had zero dunks. His three baskets came on an 8-foot fade-away, a reverse layup and a 19-foot jumper.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul tried to shoulder some of the blame for Griffin's subpar night.
“I think that's my job to get him some easier baskets,” said Paul, who had 13 points (3 for 12 shooting) and 10 assists. “They guarded him well on the block. I've just got to figure out how I can be better, get him the ball in easier spots.”
Griffin shook his head at Paul's reasoning.
“No, it wasn't that,” Griffin said. “I got open looks. I missed shots. Games like that happen. … They've got a lot of offense and they played well tonight.”
Another factor could have been it was the Clippers' eighth game in the last 11 days and the second leg of a road back-to-back-to-back. This likely explains what coach Vinny Del Negro saw as a lack of overall energy against OKC.
“I understand what he's saying,” Paul said, “but my body feels good. They just beat us — bad.”
Griffin struggled on Wednesday, but the Clippers have struggled for the better part of a month, primarily due to the loss of veteran guard Chauncey Billups to a season-ending injury.
Once 19-9 on the season, the Clippers are now 26-20, the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference and just two games from being out of the playoffs.
“It ain't no secret,” Paul said. “A couple losses here and there and we're out of the playoffs. We've got play with a sense of urgency. We've only got 20 games left and we've got to be good in those 20 games or we'll find ourselves in early May sitting at home, watching the playoffs.”
Griffin concurred and said: “We need to win some more games. We've done a poor job of putting teams away. There's been a lot of games where we've had leads and played well and kind of given up during some stretches.”