Howard Interrupts the Blake Show
Last night, the Magic found a way to do something few teams have done... shut down the Clippers Blake Griffin.
It was actually impressive, and encouraging, to see how the Magic worked as a unit in taking down the Clippers' wunderkid. Orlando had a concerted defensive plan and rant it to perfection to limit Griffin's opportunities.
There is no doubt Ryan Anderson and Earl Clark are nowhere near the level of athlete as Blake Griffin. Griffin should have been able to get off the ground and get to the basket against them. But instead he scored a career-low 10 points and shot 4 for 12.
How did this happen?
Dwight Howard had a lot to say about that. Every time the ball swung to the side of the floor Griffin was trying to post up, Howard would slide over and shade whichever side Anderson or Clark were not shading (usually baseline). In this way, Howard cut off Griffin's driving lane and kept him from getting to the basket.
On rebounds and drives, Howard contested by closing space and keeping Griffin from finding the room to explode to the basket.
Credit should go to Anderson too, who used all five of his foul in aggressively fighting off Griffin. He pushed Griffin off his spots and forced him into areas of the floor he is not comfortable. And when you have Howard behind you, you can afford to be aggressive with a defense like that.
Griffin is still a rookie and he showed it Tuesday night. There were times when he looked a little lost and he is still playing on instinct, heart and determination. That should work against a lot of teams ... just not the Magic.