Wednesday night, in an away game in their own
hometown arena, The Lakers proved to the Clippers, the city of Los Angeles, and the rest of The Association that Lakerland still reigns supreme over Lob City. Despite winning the rubber-match in the season series and staying a few games up on The Blakers, the buzz around LA Thursday wasn't about the final score, the 3-seed in the Western Conference, or the Pacific Division standings. The hot topic in The City of Angels was how Blake Griffin committed two of the most violent, incendiary throw-downs of his well-documented dunking career, both of which came at the expense of Pau Gasol.
Just over a minute into one of the most meaningful Lakers-Clippers match-ups in the history of the franchises, Blake put back a Caron Butler-missed shot so ferociously, that his forceful thrust-from-behind of Gasol lands somewhere between a borderline over-the-back foul and a deleted scene from HBO's “Oz”. The inertia of the dunk sent Pau unwillingly rolling across the hardwood, making the 7-footer look more like a 7th grader.
In Gasol's defense, he was boxing out facing the basket, so he had no idea about the detonation that was about to occur on the back of his head. Plus, Blake destroys someone's pride in the paint on a fairly regular basis, so it shouldn't have been hard for the Laker Power Forward to shake it off and hope he wasn't due for another posterizing for a while, right?
Midway through the third quarter, The Blake Show took the stage again. Coming off of a lazy pick-n-roll, Griffin cut to the basket with his defender, the enigmatic Andrew Bynum, closing out on the shooter instead of cutting off Blake's angle to the rim. Blake received the pass, picked up a full head of steam, and did exactly what Blake Griffin does: turn NBA players into verbs. Once again, you can't put too much blame on Gasol. He was the help defender, and couldn't let Griffin get to the basket without at least trying to impede him or commit a foul. The result was an absolutely vicious face-up, mano-a-mano obliteration.
Between missing his rookie season due to injury (he got hurt in the last game of the 2010 preseason), by, of all things, dunking too hard, and this season being shortened, Griffin has only played in 136 NBA games. However, in that short time, he's changed the history of slam dunking forever. Not only does he elevate, change direction mid-air, draw contact, and finish unlike anyone we've ever seen, he does so while thoroughly demoralizing and embarrassing his opponents. It all started when he “Mosgov'd Mosgov” . Then last month, he Mosgov'd Perkins (RIP Perkins twitter account). And of course, there was Wednesday night, against his team's biggest rival, where he had two moments that made the mixed Staples Center crowd erupt and the entire Laker Nation share one big “SMH”.
One final note about Gasol: say what you will about the way he got dunked on, his personality on the court, and his game in general, but he treated the entire spectacle like a pro. After the game he tweeted this:
While getting the W might have been more important to Gasol and The Lakers, the fact remains that this season will come and go, but the impact of those dunks will be seen around LA for a long time.