Griffin and Clippers top Wolves again in battle of All-Star hopefuls
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Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers once again beat Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves 126-111 Wednesday at Staples Center.
It was the third meeting this season for Love and Griffin who are both enjoying breakout seasons with similar parallels.
Both are young, Griffin a rookie and Love a third year player.
Both are playing a part in rejuvenating a bad team, Griffin more than Love.
Both have had a signature game that announce their arrival, Love's 31 point-31 rebound performance on Nov. 13 and more recently Griffin's 47 point explosion Monday.
Both were going into tonight's game with impressive double-double streaks, although Griffin's ended two rebounds shy, mainly because he was pulled with 3:54 left to watch the end of the blowout.
Both may be competing with each other for a final spot on the Western Conference All-Star team
Love vs. Griffin
Nov. 17: Wolves 113 – Clippers 111
Love: 24 points (7-of-11 .636), 12 rebounds, four assists, two steals, 37:38
Griffin: 22 points (9-of-12 .750), 10 rebounds, seven assists, one steal, 35:42
Dec. 20: Clippers 113 - Wolves 90
Love: 12 points (4-of-9 .444), 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, 32:19
Griffin: 26 points (12-of-22 .545), 17 rebounds, two assists, 36:43
Jan. 19: Clippers 126 - Wolves 111
Love: 26 points (8-of-14 .571), 11 rebounds, assist, 31:04
Griffin: 29 points (10-of-21 .476), 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 31:21
With the paper-ballot All-Star voting concluded and the online voting ending on Sunday, it would take a minor-miracle -- or some serious voter-fraud -- for either Love or Griffin to get voted in by the fans so they will have to rely on getting voted in by the conference coaches.
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant is far and away the leader in the clubhouse for Western Conference forwards with Denver's Carmelo Anthony and the Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol in a close battle for the second starting spot.
That leaves Love and Griffin to battle Anthony/Gasol, Dallas' Dirk Nowitizki, San Antonio's Tim Duncan, Memphis' Zach Randolph and Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge for the three or possible four reserve forward spots in the West. Anthony getting traded to the East would certainly clear things up a bit.
Nowitizki and Duncan have a chance to get in -- more so for career-achievement than 2010 numbers -- so it may very well come down to Love and Griffin for the final spot.
Love has had a season where he has continually put up what multiple teammates have called "video game numbers" averaging 21.2 points, a league-leading 15.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists in a career-high 37 minutes per game.
Love's gaudy rebound numbers have helped propel him to a league-leading 38 double-doubles. Love has also 29 consecutive double-doubles, just nine shy of Kevin Garnett's franchise record of 37 consecutive.
These stats are impressive but the one that sets Love apart from other power forwards -- not just this season, but ever -- is his .444 shooting percentage from behind the three-point line, which ranks seventh in the NBA.
Griffin has put up similar numbers as Love -- 22.5 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists -- but plays a completely different game. Griffin attacks the rim on dunks with a ferocity not seen in the NBA in quite some time.
In short, Love plays the type of basketball coaches love while Griffin plays the style of basketball that SportsCenter producers love.
If Love is not a part of the All-Star game it certainly will not because of his individual statistics, but rather the Wolves' record.
At 10-33 the Wolves have the third worst record in the league and leading your team to victory is something that coaches will look at when they vote on the seven reserve spots after the starters are announced on Jan. 27th.
Griffin's impressive consecutive double-double streaks ended at 28 Monday but the Clippers have been 15-14 since he started the streak, including winning 15 of their last 16 games.
Love and Wolves, on the other hand, are just 6-23 since Love started his double-double streak.
While there is no set criteria for amount of wins a players' team needs to have in order for a player to get in -- and AM sports-talk shows can debate forever on if it should even matter -- history shows that the Wolves, at 10 wins, would be doing Love's chances a solid if they can piece together a few more victories before the conference coaches begin voting for reserves on Jan. 27.
Fewest wins at All-Star break
Chris Kaman* – 21 – Los Angeles Clippers
David Lee* – 19 – New York Knicks
Devin Harris – 24 – New Jersey Nets
Danny Grainger – 21 – Indiana Pacers
Antawn Jamison – 25 – Washington Wizards
Joe Johnson – 22 – Atlanta Hawks
Joe Johnson – 21- Atlanta Hawks
Ray Allen – 20 – Seattle SuperSonics
Ray Allen – 20 – Seattle SuperSonics
Chris Bosh – 20 – Toronto Raptors
* = replacement for injured player
Besides just stats and team records, there are whole other set of intangibles that make Griffin a more obvious choice. The game itself is being held at Griffin's homecourt, the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Griffin and his 'NBA Jam'-style abilities have already agreed to take place in the Dunk contest, the signature event of All-Star Saturday night.
Further, Griffin's style of play is much more suited for an All-Star game environment where scores routinely reach in the mid-100s and most points come off of dunks.
That isn't to say that Love has no shot at becoming the first Wolves' All-Star since Kevin Garnett -- injuries happen, veterans back-out of the game, the Wolves could run off some wins -- but if it comes down to Griffin or Love, one's team is going the right way and the other's is going the wrong way.