Blake Griffin kept his emotions to himself in his return to Staples Center. The former Clippers forward, facing his former team in Los Angeles for the first time, scored 44 points in the Detroit Pistons’ 109-104 victory Saturday.
Griffin was greeted with cheers during pregame introductions and got a standing ovation after a first-quarter video tribute from the team that drafted him first overall in 2009.
“There was a lot of hype coming into this game and I was looking forward to it, but I’m glad that it’s over,” he said. “The next time I come it won’t be as crazy.”
Griffin stuck his right arm in the air and then brought his raised hands together in a thankful gesture without smiling. He clearly wanted to beat the team that traded him a year ago after he had signed a five-year, $171 million contract extension.
Andre Drummond had 20 points and 21 rebounds for the Pistons, who had lost nine of 11. Reggie Bullock finished with 17.
Danilo Gallinari led the Clippers with 23 points.
Thunder 122, Spurs 112: Dennis Schroder scored all of his 19 points in the second half to help Oklahoma City defend its home court. Russell Westbrook had 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for Oklahoma City, which bounced back from a 154-147 loss in double-overtime to the Spurs on Thursday. Schroder, a reserve point guard, went 0-for-4 from the field in the first half before going 8-for-13 after the break. DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 18 points. San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 56 points Thursday, had 17 in the rematch.
Suns 102, Nuggets 93: Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as host Phoenix, which has the Western Conference’s worst record, beat West-leading Denver. Deandre Ayton added 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Suns.
Timberwolves 110, Pelicans 106: Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and 27 rebounds to help Minnesota give interim head coach Ryan Saunders his first home victory. Towns swished a 3-pointer to make it 106-103 with 2:55 left, giving the Timberwolves the lead for good.
Heat 112, Grizzlies 108: Justise Winslow scored 26 points and Dwyane Wade had a huge blocked shot in the final seconds to help host Miami prevail. Wade blocked a potential tying layup by Shelvin Mack, then won a jump ball to help the Heat escape.
Magic 105, Celtics 103: Aaron Gordon had 28 points and 12 rebounds, and host Orlando held off Boston’s late rally. Jayson Tatum missed a jumper at the buzzer that would have tied it for the Celtics.
Kings 104, Hornets 97: Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 22 points as host Sacramento improved to 10-3 against Eastern Conference teams. Kemba Walker had 31 points for Charlotte.
Jazz 110, Bulls 102: Donovan Mitchell scored 34 points as host Utah dealt Chicago its seventh straight loss. Zach Lavine scored 21 points for the Bulls.
Briefly: Dallas guard J.J. Barea, averaging 10.9 points and a team-high 5.6 assists, will miss the rest of the season after tearing his right Achilles tendon against Minnesota on Friday. … Chicago coach Jim Boylen, who replaced the fired Fred Hoiberg last month, received a pay raise and a contract extension through next season, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Blake-Griffin-pours-in-44-after-Los-Angeles-13529771.php.