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Griffin, Clips snap road skid vs. Knicks

Blake Griffin threw down plenty of dunks in the Clippers' fourth road win of the season last night at MSG.

The Knicks are a far better product than what we’ve seen over the previous two seasons but they showed in last night’s 116-108 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers that they’re still a middling squad.

Not even Carmelo Anthony could’ve made a difference because it was the Knicks’ defense that let them down. The Clippers [20-32] had 58 points in the paint, held a 17-5 advantage in fastbreak points,and at times exhibited a layup line to the tin, as they snapped a seven-game road losing streak. Blake Griffin, making his Garden debut, had 21 points and six rebounds. The “Blake Show” wasn’t the only attraction, however, as his supporting cast was just as lethal. Every Clipper starter finished in double figures, led by Randy Foye’s game-high 24 points. DeAndre Jordan added 17 points and eight rebounds, Baron Davis had 16 points and a game-high 16 assists, and Ryan Gomes rounded out the double-digit starters with 21 points. Rookie guard Eric Bledsoe contributed with 16 points off the bench.

Things started out well for the Knicks [26-25], as they held a 29-28 lead after one quarter. Timofey Mozgov was the catalyst as he had 12 of his 18 points in the quarter and held his own against the athletic Clippers’ frontline. There were nine total dunks in the first quarter, including four by Mozgov. Amar’e Stoudemire chipped in with seven of his 23 points in the opening quarter, as the Knicks looked sharp on offense and active on defense.

The second half was a different story, though, as the Clippers went up by as many as 20 points in the third quarter, led by Bledsoe’s nine and Griffin’s seven points. The hefty lead was aided by a 15-6 Clippers’ run which spanned four minutes.

The Knicks didn’t show any life again until a 14-4 run cut a 10-point deficit down to three with 5:30 remaining. It was nip-and-tuck for the next two minutes, as both teams traded baskets but ultimately it was former Villanova standout and Newark, NJ native Randy Foye who knocked down a dagger 3-pointer with 2:40 left.

Head coach Mike D’Antoni was very unhappy with the overall lackluster performance and lit into his team afterwards.

“Sometimes we do not put the effort first and we just want to win the game without having to go full out. And then we find that we have to go full out and sometimes it’s too late,” he steamed. “We just did not come out to play. You could see it on their faces…there are times when you lay an egg but it should never be because you do not have the necessary heart or desire. It was a total lack of commitment on our part.”

New York’s inefficiency beyond the three-point line was arguably its biggest adversary, as they only knocked down 6-of-26 shooting from three. The 23 percent shooting was the team’s season low. Danilo Gallinari was the least effective with 1-of-8 shooting. Although Gallo finished with 21 points, most came from the free throw line [14-of-14], as he was a paltry 3-of-13 shooting from the floor. The Knicks made matters worse as they only assisted on 21 of 40 made field goals and too many times went one-on-one with little effect.

The little bright spots that were exhibited included Raymond Felton, who led the Knicks with 12 assists to go along with 17 points, and 23 combined points off the bench from Toney Douglas and Wilson Chandler, who notched 12 and 11 points, respectively.

D’Antoni said one Knick stood out in a positive way than all the rest and was more than happy to send a message to his team via the praising.

“He is playing well. Playing hard is a talent and he has that,” D’Antoni said of Mozgov, who is averaging 11 points and six rebounds over the last five games. “Finding the energy, finding the defense, and rebounding are all hard things and he did that.”


1. The Knicks haven’t been known as a defensive juggernaut since Mike D’Antoni took over but last night there were too many stretches where New York’s defense was amongst the worst efforts in many years. The Clippers took advantage of the soft Knicks’ interior as they had 58 points in the paint. Blake Griffin, making his Garden debut, had 21 points -- mostly off dunks -- as he had his way in the paint. Griffin wasn’t the only one to have success in the paint, as DeAndre Jordan added 17 points and Baron Davis led a layup line throughout most of the night. Davis finished with 16 points and a game-high 16 assists, many setting up easy Clipper dunks and layups.

2. The Clippers weren’t as bountiful in jacking up threes as the Knicks were but they were far more efficient, with 9-of-17 shooting. Conversely, the Knicks were an atrocious 6-of-26 shooting from beyond the arc. Danilo Gallinari was the main wayward shooter, as he shot a measly 1-of-8.

3. Cynics may have snickered – or said their prayers – when it was announced that Timofey Mozgov would get the start at center and see plenty of action against Griffin. But it was Mozgov who was as big an impact player, netting 18 points. Mozgov didn’t get many plays run for him but he excelled at being in the right spot at the right time for many of the Knicks’ dribble-drive dishes. Mozgov started hot, registering 12 first-quarter points, and was the most aggressive Knick in the paint all night.

4. When Baron Davis is in shape and has a desire to play, he’s still amongst the most explosive point guards in the league. Last night he showed the full arsenal, knocking down clutch jumpers, running the break to near-perfection, and weaving in and out of the Knicks’ defense. Davis had 11 of his game-high 16 assists in the first half and set the tempo for the game, as he set up numerous uncontested dunks for Griffin and Jordan.

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