LOS ANGELES – When Blake Griffin arrived at Staples Center on Saturday afternoon, all of his focus was on the challenge of slowing LeBron James, switching onto Kyrie Irving and chasing Kevin Love out to the 3-point line.
Then, about an hour before tipoff came the word that none of those guys would play. For the second time this season, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue gave three of the NBA’s most marketable stars, defending champions, the night off for rest.
“I like these types of games for a reason,” Griffin said. “It’s playing against the best, (which) is why everybody wants to play in the NBA that plays basketball. You miss out on playing against guys like that.”
For the Clippers, however, there is a less pure reality.
Reeling after the All-Star Break, the Clippers need any advantage they can get, and thanks to Coach Tyronn Lue’s timing, a game in which the Clippers were not favored to win became a cakewalk, with the Clippers rolling the Cavaliers 108-78.
“I’d like to thank Ty Lue,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “That was very nice of him tonight.”
The Clippers snapped a three-game losing skid with the victory. Before Saturday, they had lost eight of their last 13 games.
“We’ve been struggling to find a win here lately,” Chris Paul said. “So getting a win is always good.”
One game after Rivers left Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan home from a loss at Denver, Griffin finished with 23 points, while Jordan added 13 points and 17 rebounds.
All numbers from Saturday’s win should be carefully considered against the circumstances. For example, the Clippers held Cleveland to 31 points in the first half, a season-low. At halftime, Cleveland was 0 for 13 from 3.
But the number that needs no qualification is 41-29, the Clippers’ record after the win. The math of the Western Conference playoff picture has grown murky, but with the win the Clippers maintained a half-game edge on Oklahoma City (40-29) for the fifth…