The rigors of the All-Star break

For about 85 percent of NBA players, the annual February All-Star break means trips home, time with family and/or friends and four or five days off from basketball.

Then there are the players who actually have to participate in the festivities, for whom the break isn't much of a break at all. It's not that the game is particularly tough or tiring -- it's more that they're just required to be there. Their teammates go home, but they go wherever the game is played and spend the whole weekend there.

Blake Griffin is one of those players, with the Clippers' third-year forward participating in Friday night's rookie-sophomore game and the big All-Star game on Sunday.

But it was even worse last season, when he was the star of the weekend in L.A. as a rare rookie All-Star and found himself ushered from place to place for different appearances all weekend. That hectic schedule affected him for much of the rest of the season, he said Wednesday, which is the primary reason why he declined to participate in this year's dunk contest.

"Everything started for me at like noon on Thursday, and it was literally until midnight every night," Griffin said after the Clippers' win over the Nuggets. "I was exhausted. That's why I kinda toned it back a little back this year."

This year, he'll fly out Thursday to Orlando and again spend a lot of the time doing various appearances but will also step back some and hang out with his family on Saturday night, he said.

"I got a little sick," he said of last year at this time. "To me, I felt like I had a bad month after the All-Star. It took me a while to catch my breath and all that."

The facts confirm Griffin's assertion: His March numbers were noticeably worse than his season-long statistics, roughly two points and two rebounds off the pace he had set. The interesting thing, though, was that it wasn't immediately after the All-Star break that his numbers started to decline -- it was about 10 days after.

That's when the whole not-having-a-break thing caught up to him, apparently. In the five games immediately following the "break," his points actually went up to 24 per game, although the Clippers lost all five of those contests.

This year, the Clippers will practice on Monday afternoon after the break and host Minnesota on Tuesday night before a six-games-in-eight-days road trip.