Los Angeles: Blake Griffin made a turbulent return to the Staples Center, scoring 44 points as the Detroit Pistons toppled the Los Angeles Clippers 109-104.
It was an emotional day for Griffin as he snubbed Clippers owner Steve Ballmer before the game, was greeted with a standing ovation during a first-quarter video tribute, and then had a heated exchange on the floor with former teammate Patrick Beverley as the final horn sounded.
"There was a lot of hype coming into this game and I was looking forward to it, but I'm glad that it's over," said Griffin. "The next time I come it won't be as crazy."
The former first overall draft pick by the Clippers in 2009 was surprisingly traded to Detroit last January after signing a five-year extension worth $171 million.
Griffin averaged 21.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists in eight seasons in Los Angeles. He won the rookie-of-the-year award and was a five-time all-star with the franchise.
Before the game, Clippers owner Ballmer waited on the sidelines and then extended his hand for a handshake, but Griffin ignored him, sprinting off to the locker room.
After the game, Griffin scolded a reporter for mentioning the snub on social media, saying he was just conducting his pre-game routine.
Asked if he would ever shake Ballmer's hand, Griffin bristled, saying, "I am not here to answer hypothetical questions."
Andre Drummond had 20 points and 21 rebounds and Reggie Bullock finished with 17 for the Pistons, who have lost nine of their last 12.
"Down the stretch, we played great defence, got stops and protected the ball and that was the difference," Griffin said.
Danilo Gallinari led the Clippers with 23 points. Lou Williams added 22 points, and Montrezl Harrell had 21 points and nine rebounds.
Elsewhere, Russell Westbrook tallied 24 points and 10 rebounds and reserve guard Dennis Schroder scored all 10 points in the second half as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the San Antonio Spurs 122-112 on Saturday.
The Thunder rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to seize control of the contest in the third quarter and avenge a 154-147 double-overtime loss to the Spurs two nights ago.
Paul George added 18 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma City, who outscored the Spurs 35-20 in the third.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Thunder. It was just San Antonio's second loss in its last eight games.
"Schroder just sliced us and diced us, did a great job getting to the rim," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Defense let us down."
Marco Belinelli scored 24 points and DeMar DeRozan added 18 points for the Spurs.
LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored a career-high 56 points against the Thunder on Thursday, struggled with the extra coverage and finished with 17 points.
"They didn't let me play," Aldridge said. "They doubled me in every way. They came from the baseline, from the top. They made sure that the ball wasn't in my hands."
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Updated Date: Jan 13, 2019 13:51:08 IST