The Los Angeles Clippers have been on a tear lately winning 13 of their last 16 games but as the playoffs approach, teams feel they may have found a chink in the Clippers’ armor. On Thursday night, the Phoenix Suns were able to limit Clippers’ star forward Blake Griffin with hard fouls.
Griffin got off to a hot start as he poured in 14 points in the first quarter. Then the Suns decided it was time to change tactics as they beat and hacked Griffin throughout the rest of the game.
Robin Lopez would administer the hardest hit of the game knocking Griffin to the ground with only 6:14 left to play. Lopez would receive a flagrant-two for the foul promptly ending his night.
Watch Robin Lopez's flagrant foul on Blake Griffin:
The Suns’ strategy worked as Griffin would only score two points in the last three quarters of the game. With Griffin essentially neutralized, Chris Paul tried his best to will his team to a win but the Clippers would come up short losing 93-90 to the Suns.
It seems that teams have been taking shots at Griffin ever since New Orleans Hornets’ forward Jason Smith laid Griffin out with a hard foul nearly a month ago. It may not be a coincidence that the Clippers lost that game also.
Jason Smith lays out Blake Griffin with a brutal hit:
Still it’s weird to see a finesse team like the Suns employ such a harsh strategy but they are playing for their playoff lives. Desperate times call for desperate measures it seems.
What should really concern the Clippers now though is how their grudge match against the Suns will encourage teams to employ this tactic in the playoffs. The Clippers will most likely draw the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round and their front court is way bigger than the one’s in Phoenix and New Orleans.
The Clippers won the season series with the Grizzlies 2-1 but Memphis was victorious in the last game they
played and the Grizzlies have been on a roll themselves winning 12 of their last 16 games. It doesn’t help that the slower pace of the playoffs favors the way the Grizzlies play.
So Griffin will have to figure out how to not let teams’ bully tactics affect his game. If not then the Clippers’ first playoff appearance in six years will be a brief one.
Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2. He is also a Sports Reporter for Pro Sports Lives. He can be contacted at RHall_TPFB@Yahoo.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.