Blake Griffin was unstoppable in the first quarter, going 7-for-13 from the field. Phoenix regrouped, and turned the game into something more closely rembling Atari's Basketbrawl, and what do you know: it worked. Griffin didn't score another field goal the rest of the game.
The Suns shoved Griffin around all night, including Jared Dudley going chest-to-chest in the third, and culminating in this hard foul from Robin Lopez in the fourth. Dudley, on Phoenix's newfound toughness:
"A lot of pushing and grabbing was going on. Even if you don't think you're getting the calls, you've got to make a stand to a certain point within the grasp of the game. I thought we did that. It just shows you the fight in this team to where we're not just going to lay over and let a team run through us. It was the emotion of the game, me being frustrated with the foul on Kenyon (Martin) and I took it out on him (Griffin). He'll be OK. He's big enough."
Griffin was none too pleased about Lopez foul, which was called a Flagrant Two and a mandatory ejection. He said "there's a difference between a hard foul when you're going for the ball or going for someone's head." His teammates were ready to throw down with Lopez too.
Alvin Gentry told me to tell Blake that they don't stand for that," Chris Paul said. "I don't know what Lopez was thinking. I actually went to the ref and asked if they could keep him in the game rather than not get ejected.… He didn't want to get dunked on so he decided to do something crazy."
It worked, of course. Griffin was kept quiet and the Suns pulled out the win, and as the playoffs come, expect to see a lot more hard fouls on Griffin. It should be a surprise. He's a guy who drives to the basket, hangs on the rim, screams after dunks, and can't shoot free throws. Hack-a-Blake has arrived.
Update: Charles Barkley compared Griffin to Gretzky or Lemieux, and said someone on the Clips needs to stand up and be an enforcer for him. You hit Blake, we'll hit you. DeAndre Jordan, Kenyon Martin, time to get physical.