After fracturing his right hand on Jan. 23 in an altercation with a Los Angeles Clippers equipment staffer in Toronto, star forward Blake Griffin received a four-game suspension Tuesday.
Dan Woike of the Orange County Register shared the Clippers' announcement:
Clippers announcement on Griffin's punishment pic.twitter.com/SEw5FY3D3M— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 9, 2016
Per ESPN's Michael Eaves, the incident took place at a Toronto restaurant where Griffin and the staff member, Matias Testi, got into an argument. The five-time All-Star reportedly punched Testi inside the restaurant and once again outside the establishment, which resulted in him injuring his hand. Griffin and Testi are friends, according to Eaves, and had even vacationed together previously.
Shelburne was later the first to report that the 26-year-old University of Oklahoma alumnus could face league discipline in addition to the time he was already slated to miss due to the hand injury.
The Clips haven't missed a beat while Griffin has been sidelined, as they boast a record of 18-4 in games he has missed. They are currently in fourth place in the competitive Western Conference, 3.5 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Even so, Griffin was putting up huge numbers prior to his injuries and suspension, and he remains on a historic pace, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Through 30 games, Blake Griffin is on pace to join LeBron James as only players in last decade with these averages pic.twitter.com/AfEFofItuX— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 26, 2016
L.A. needs Griffin in order to pose a threat to the likes of the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Thunder. While it may be able to beat some of the NBA's also-rans without Griffin's services, it stands little chance of hanging with the elite title contenders unless he is healthy.
Injuries happen, but Griffin's latest was self-inflicted in more ways than one. He was seemingly on the verge of returning to action after allowing his quad ailment to heal, but now, the Clippers must wait even longer due to his fractured hand and subsequent suspension.
With his return now nowhere in sight, the pressure to produce will continue to mount on Los Angeles' backcourt of Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford.
In the frontcourt, DeAndre Jordan must continue to shoulder the load in Griffin's absence. The likes of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson are also tasked with replacing at least a portion of Griffin's gaudy production.
The Clippers can take solace in knowing that Griffin should be well rested and ready for the stretch run when he returns, but they face a difficult challenge when it comes to sustaining their spot in the standings without one of the NBA's best big men for the foreseeable future.
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