L.A. Clippers’ Blake Griffin’s assists more than just a passing fancy

first_imgIt’s only been two games since his return, but Spencer Hawes on New Years Eve showed how vital he is to the team when he scored 10 points – burying two 3-pointers – and grabbed seven rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench in Los Angeles’ 99-78 victory over the New York Knicks.The 7-foot-1 backup post missed nine consecutive games with a bruised left knee. He came back Monday and scored just two points with two assists, two blocks and three rebounds in 13 minutes in a 101-97 win over Utah. He then shot 4 of 7 in the win over the Knicks – 2 of 3 from beyond the arc. He also had two assists and a steal to complement the rebounds.“He adds a lot to our team,” Rivers said of Hawes. “You know, it’s valuable for everybody to stay healthy, when you think about it. And when he’s out, it obviously stretched us a little bit. We had to put lineups on the floor that we really didn’t want to put on.“But listen, every team’s thin in some ways and you’re going to have injuries; that’s going to happen. But you don’t want any of them. They’re all bad.”Hawes, a starter most of his career, has not started a game for the Clippers. He’s averaging 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds, but his outside-shooting ability makes him a threat to break loose for a big game on a given night. He scored a season-high 17 points in a Nov. 2 loss to Sacramento.Hawes has career scoring and rebounding averages of 9.5 and 6.3, respectively. He averaged 13.2 points and 8.3 rebounds in 2013-14, starting 78 of 80 games played with Cleveland and Philadelphia. “Guys have to make shots,” said Griffin, who has been called perhaps the best passing big man in the league by coach Doc Rivers. “I don’t know, I try to look for guys the same way every game. But guys have definitely been hitting shots and I think our offense is flowing pretty well and we’ve had good spacing. I think that helps, too, because the defense has to stretch so many different ways.“When Jamal (Crawford) and J.J. (Redick) and CP are in and D.J.’s (DeAndre Jordan) ducking in or D.J.’s at the rim for lobs, I really have four options and that’s a lot of options. It’s easy. Especially when I get stuck, I can just put it somewhere next to the rim and D.J.’s going to finish. So it’s really about our offense and who we have on the floor and our weapons.”Even though this is easily Griffin’s best of his four-plus seasons in the assist department, he said he’s always had it in his arsenal.“It’s a part of my game, I think, but it’s not something I just started doing,” he said.Hawes’ return Blake Griffin’s career assists average heading into Saturday’s game between his Clippers and the Philadelphia 76ers was 3.8. But he’s averaging 5.0 this season. Moreover, he averaged 6.0 assists in 17 games in December and twice doled out a career-high 11.Not too shabby, coming from a 6-foot-10 power forward. Point guard Chris Paul loves it.“It’s very valuable,” he said. “When teams try to send two people at me in the pick-and-roll and different things like that, there are some guys in our league who have to try to pull it and drag it and keep it themselves. But it makes us that much more dangerous that I can just hit Blake and he knows how to make great decisions.”Griffin, who leads the team in scoring with a 22.6 points-per-game average, gives his teammates a lot of credit for his work.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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