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Blake Griffin’s debut as a Detroit Piston went as well as possibly be expected.
Playing his first game with the team that acquired him in a blockbuster trade Monday night, the former University of Oklahoma star and No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft had 24 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, handed out five assists and swatted two shots in 35 minutes in leading the Pistons to a narrow 104-102 victory over visiting Memphis at Little Caesers Arena.
All went well for Griffin & Co., with one exception — he forgot to put his game jersey back on before the start of the second half, which he did not realize until he peeled off his warmup top in front of the Detroit bench.
Blake had some first-game jitters. 😂 pic.twitter.com/LSGHkB0tv9
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 2, 2018
“You know what?” Griffin, 28, now in his eighth NBA season said with a laugh to reporters after the game. “I’m just going to blame it on a new environment. And my track record, I’ve never done that before. I went to go take my shirt off and I was like, ‘Something doesn’t feel right.’ And I pulled it off and I saw that I only had my undershirt on. I don’t know. I just wanted Anthony Tolliver to get a stop for me.”
Griffin was saved by an equipment manager, who sped back to the Pistons’ locker room to grab Griffin’s jersey. However, it was too late and Griffin had to start the second half on the bench, Tolliver taking his sport at power forward.
Oh, about the debut as a Piston, Blake?
“I wanted to just come out and play hard,” the 6-foot-10, 251-pound Griffin said. “Being really limited in my knowledge of our offense. I thought Coach [Stan] Van Gundy did a great job of just putting in five things that we could go to and we ran them to death, but they worked. And everybody just played hard.”
Van Gundy realizes Detroit must work on coming together since the big deal, which sent starters Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley to Los Angeles, and hope Griffin’s presence helps elevate the games of his new teammates. The conquest of the Grizzlies improved the Pistons to 24-26 on the season and they stand ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, one game behind Philadelphia (24-24) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.
“Well, we were plus-23 with him on the floor in 35 minutes, so we were fairly dominant in that time,” Van Gundy said. “And struggled slightly in the 13 minutes he was on the bench and we got outscored by 21.
“So we got to get that worked out.”