How Blake Griffin submitted a dunk-of-the-year candidate

LOS ANGELES -- Blake Griffin was flying high over the painted key of Staples Center as the LA Clippers were trying to climb out of a 19-point hole against the visiting Chicago Bulls. And Robin Lopez was moments away from, as they say in internet parlance, "being ended."

"You see, Blake usually goes off of two feet," Jamal Crawford later explained to ESPN about Griffin's slam dunk on Lopez. "But he goes off one this time. It happened so quick."

With two minutes left in the second quarter and the Clippers down 12, Chris Paul checked the clock from midcourt. There were 14 seconds left on the shot clock. J.J. Redick came off a Luc Mbah a Moute screen on the weakside block. DeAndre Jordan was set on the strongside block for another screen on Jimmy Butler.

Simultaneously, as Redick curled off the secondary screen, Griffin and Paul engaged in a two-man game seemingly tailored for the duo: the high pick-and-roll. Taj Gibson took a single step to his right to stop the point of attack, as Rajon Rondo slid over the Griffin screen to stay with Paul. And in the slice of space between the two Bulls, a drop pass slid through that catalyzed the impending destruction.

"The last time I had gotten it, I think CP had hit me on a roll, and I went up against Lopez and kind of threw up a bad shot," Griffin said after the game. "And the next timeout, [Clippers coach] Doc [Rivers] said, 'Go through him. Don't try to go around him. Don't try to do all that [contortion].' So we got what we wanted in the pick-and-roll and, you know, just tried to take it hard, like Doc said.

"So at the next timeout, I was like, 'Is that better?'"

The Clippers finished the half on an 8-1 run to trim the deficit to just five points, ultimately completing their comeback in the fourth quarter for a 102-95 victory.

"That stuff can get you going. That's the spark," Paul Pierce told ESPN after the game. "You know, that stuff gathers momentum through the crowd, through the bench, stuff like that -- plays like that, where you see those types of exciting plays. Because you don't see 'em every day."

Massive, momentum-swinging dunks have been less of a daily affair in Lob City, as the Clippers have focused their attention on a defensive identity this season; they were second in defensive efficiency before Saturday night's game. But was there any sense among the teammates that basketball fission was about to be achieved?

"Nah, you know, it just happened so fast," Austin Rivers said after the game. "I mean, sometimes you can. Like when it's a little pocket pass, you can see [Griffin] stutter his feet, and you go, 'Uh, oh!' You know what I mean? That one [the dunk over Lopez], sometimes it happens quick, where just you don't even have time to realize what just happened. That one, he just came off, just rose up, you know? I mean, that was a helluva dunk."

At least one player on the court knew it was coming, though.

"Yeah, it's funny," Redick said after the game. "We had just talked about it like two plays before that. He had a chance and he's like, 'Man! I just gotta go right through his chest.' So, I saw it coming. I saw it coming."