Hack a Blake?

Blake Griffin may be part of Lob City, but last night, it seemed like he was representing Brick City.

Foul Mr. Griffin.

That was the strategy for the Mavericks in last night’s close victory against the Clippers. Employing a hack-a-griff, or rake-a-blake, whatever you want to call it, the Mavs were able to pull out the 96-92 victory while Griffin went 2-9 from the line.

With 2:44 remaining, Dallas led 86-83 when Griffin got the ball on the left wing and drove to the hoop. How did they stop the attack? Foul Mr. Griffin. He was 0-4 already at the line, and anyone watching the game could tell he wanted  nothing to do with those free-throws. Breathing heavily, face filled with fear, Griffin went up for his first attempt. Brick city. Someone needs to work on his form with him because there is a nasty hitch in that shot of his, a flaw that most likely gets amplified in pressure situations. Ref gave him the ball for the second shot, and yup, you guessed it! Another brick. Someone cue the brick house music right now please. Griffin was now 0-6 from the line, and the Clippers still trailed by 3.

The next LAC possession actually shocked me. After a Jason Terry missed three-pointer, CP3 slowly brought the ball past half-court. As soon as Blake Griffin crossed half court, Jason Kidd, very intentionally, fouled him away from the ball. 2:15 now remained in the game, and the Mavericks continued with their strategy of fouling Blake Griffin. I’ve seen this ‘strategy’ plenty of times against poor free throw shooters (Shaq, Ben Wallace to name a couple), but never, ever thought I would see it happen to the guy from the Kia commercials! Blake Griffin looked even more nervous this time around as he stepped to the line, but did manage to sink the second free throw attempt, making him 1-8 on the night.

In the following possession, I saw the most hesitant Blake Griffin I’d seen all season. He caught the ball on the left wing, and after a few meaningless moves, forced a pass which was tipped by Shawn Marion. The Clippers ended up losing 96-92 (still going a strong 4-2 on their Grammy road trip), but Griffin’s free throw shooting (2-9)woes stuck out like a sore thumb.

If the Clippers want to make a deep playoff run, these types of things can’t happen. Especially with Billups out for the season, Griffin is going to get the ball in late-game situations. The Mavs gave the rest of NBA a recipe to win close games against the Clippers, just foul Blake Griffin. The game shouldn’t be lost from 15 feet away from the hoop, and unless Griffin goes back and works on his FTs, the Clippers championship aspirations are in big trouble.


Follow Rohit on Twitter: @RohitGhosh