Published March 12, 2011
WASHINGTON – Blake Griffin scored all of his 26 points in the first half and the Los Angeles Clippers rolled to a 122-101 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.
In the matchup between the last two No. 1 overall picks, Griffin got the best of John Wall, both on the scoreboard and in the individual battle. Wall finished with 25 points, although the rookie from Kentucky also added eight assists and seven rebounds.
Los Angeles built a 19-point, first-half lead, only to see Washington close the gap to 68-65 with 8:36 left in the third quarter. But the Clippers went on a 29-8 burst over the third and fourth periods to cruise to their fifth win in six tries.
Eric Bledsoe added a career-high 23 points for Los Angeles. Jordan Crawford scored 16 for the Wizards, who have lost 19 of 22.
Griffin dominated the first half, overpowering a cavalcade of Wizards defenders with his strength and post-up moves. In the game's first 10 minutes, Griffin scored 16 points and put nearly every Washington big man in foul trouble as the Clippers went on a 23-3 run to build a 32-13 lead.
Los Angeles shot 23 free throws in the first quarter, compared to 21 field goal attempts, in racking up 38 points — the most given up by the Wizards in the opening frame. Griffin finished 10 of 11 from the line, 8 of 9 in the first quarter.
Griffin saved his trademark theatrics for the second quarter, hooking up with Mo Williams on an alley-oop that drew "ooohs" from the sellout crowd midway through the period. He then followed with a rainbow fadeaway jumper to give the Clippers a 61-46 lead with 3:13 remaining and added an emphatic swat of Wall's drive on the Wizards' next shot attempt.
Wall did his best to keep Washington in the game, sprinting through Los Angeles' defense to score 19 first-half points on 18 attempts as the Wizards went into the break trailing 64-55.
Notes: Washington coach Flip Saunders downplayed the Wall-Griffin matchup from his player's perspective before the game. "John is pretty much beyond that," Saunders said. "He has to worry about himself and not the competition." ... JaVale McGee grabbed eight rebounds to pass the 1,000-rebound mark for his career. He now has 1,004. ... Andray Blatche missed the game with a sprained right shoulder he suffered in Wednesday's loss to Milwaukee, while Rashard Lewis missed his third straight contest with a sore knee. Josh Howard returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games with a strained left hamstring.