Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Clippers

Feared Blake Griffin, Chris Paul pick-and-roll lacks the roll

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From the second Blake Griffin said “lob city,” every one of us pictured his pick-and-roll with Chris Paul as potentially the most devastating play in the NBA. We pictured unstoppable dunks.

So far, not so much. Through 11 games this season, Blake Griffin has gotten a shot attempt as the roll man in the pick-and-roll 29 times — and 22 of those were pick-and-pop jumpers. Just seven times has he gotten the ball rolling to the basket off the pick and taken a shot this season.

Let that sink in a second.

Mark Travis of The Chase Down Block found those numbers — I went to My Synergy Sports to double check because it seemed counterintuitive, and he’s right. While the Clippers have the seventh most efficient offense in the NBA this season, they haven’t figured out how to unleash their most devastating weapon. In an effort to space the floor Griffin spends time on the perimeter rather than in the paint.

In his must-read post Travis notes that Griffin is not attacking off the pick-and-roll like Amar’e Stoudemire used to do when he was part of the most feared combo in the league (with Steve Nash).

This season, Griffin has been floating around on the perimeter way too often. Obviously, any time Griffin doesn’t approach the paint is a win for the defense, which was the case with Amar’e during his days in Phoenix. That said, when Amar’e would shoot the 16-23 footer, he could still burn a defense, as he was an effective 44-48% shooter from that range. Griffin doesn’t have the weapon in his arsenal yet, and he’s actually shooting slightly worse than he did last season from 16-23 feet (33% to 31%) on two more attempts per game (3.1 to 5.1). That’s right, athletic monster Blake Griffin is shooting five mid-range jumpers a night, which is the same amount as Dirk Nowitzki is shooting, but Dirk is making 56% of his.

Chris Paul played for years with pick-and-pop specialist David West, but Griffin is a different player and the two are still working to get on the same page. Griffin has to attack more — he’s worked on that midrange game but it still is not the weapon it needs to be. He needs to be Amar’e or Tyson Chandler. Attack. Right now the Clippers are not playing to their strengths. They are playing into the hands of the defense, who will let Griffin try to beat them from 19 feet all night long.

The Clippers are a work in progress, and still a good offensive team. But when Griffin attacks and he and CP3 learn how to make that work together, they can be much more than good. As can the Clippers.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

Minnesota Timberwolves Zach LaVine slam dunks the ball during the NBA all-star skills competition in Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Associated Press
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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: