Blake Griffin took advantage of the first opportunity to show his former fans what they’re missing, scoring 44 points on Saturday afternoon to lead the visiting Detroit Pistons to a 109-104 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Griffin was drafted No. 1 overall by the Clippers in 2009 and spent his first eight seasons with them, helping the team reach the playoffs in six straight years from 2012-17. He was traded to Detroit last January.
Detroit center Andre Drummond added 20 points and 21 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end. Reggie Bullock, another former first-round pick of the Clippers, scored 17 points for the Pistons, who had lost nine of 11.
The starting lineup for the Clippers included two players who came to Los Angeles in the Griffin trade; forward Tobias Harris and guard Avery Bradley. Harris finished with 11 points, 10 below his scoring average, and 10 rebounds. Bradley finished with three points.
Danilo Gallinari led Los Angeles with 23 points, while Lou Williams scored 22 and Montrezl Harrell 21, both coming off the bench.
After trailing by as many as 16 early in the second half, the Clippers opened the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run to pull within two. Williams tied the score 97-97 with a 3-pointer with 4:45 left.
Bullock made two 3-pointers just over a minute apart to extend the lead to 105-99, and Griffin scored inside to make it 107-99 with 2:47 left.
The Clippers had the ball trailing by three in the final minute, but Bruce Brown made a steal from Williams with 21.2 seconds left, was fouled and sank both free throws.
Griffin, who had signed a five-year, $173 million contract six months before he was traded, didn’t shake the extended hand of Clippers owner Steve Ballmer during warmups, then went out and scored 15 points in the first quarter to help the Pistons to a 37-24 lead.
The Pistons maintained a 65-54 advantage at the half, then scored the first five points of the second half to take their biggest lead at 70-54.
—Field Level Media