Less than 12 hours after rallying for a crucial first-round Game 3 victory over the Utah Jazz, the Clippers announced Saturday morning that Griffin will miss the remainder of the postseason because of a toe injury.
Griffin suffered an injury to the plantar plate of his right big toe in the first half Friday and did not return to the game. The five-time All-Star forward will visit a foot and ankle specialist when the Clippers return to Los Angeles.
Griffin left the game with 3:18 remaining in the second quarter after landing awkwardly following a transition layup. He had 11 points, six rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes, and the team said at the time the injury was a bruised toe. X-rays at the arena were negative, but he was re-evaluated after the game.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said the injury actually happened on the play before the layup and added Griffin knew immediately that it was bad. The former No. 1 pick will remain in Salt Lake City, wearing a walking boot, and will return with the team after Game 4 on Sunday. Rivers said surgery is a possibility.
The 6-foot-10 Griffin has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, including during last year’s playoffs, when he suffered a quad injury in Game 4 of the Clippers’ first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers. He did not return for the remainder of the series, and the Clippers were eventually eliminated in six games.
With Griffin out, Clippers star point guard Chris Paul took on more of the scoring load Friday, finishing with a season-high 34 points and leading Los Angeles to a 111-106 victory in Utah. The Clippers have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“It’s tough … as much as me and big fella have been together,” Paul said Saturday. “You just hate for dumb stuff like this to happen when you know how hard somebody works. Everybody doesn’t get an opportunity to see that. For somebody who’s as dedicated to the process and the training and the working out and all that stuff like that, for something to happen, you hate to see it.
“We’ll worry about the game when it’s that time, but right now it’s about consoling one of the leaders of our team who this means more to him than anything.”
Griffin, 28, also missed 18 straight games earlier this season after undergoing surgery on his right knee. He was the Clippers’ leading scorer and second-leading rebounder this season, averaging 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.
Griffin’s latest injury marks another playoff blow to a franchise that has dealt with a series of bad luck and internal turmoil in recent years.
Griffin and Paul were lost to injuries last year, and the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead against Houston in 2015.
During the 2014 playoffs, voice recordings of then-owner Donald Sterling making racist comments surfaced, leading to him being banned by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who forced the sale of the team.
The Clippers were up 2-0 in 2013 before losing to Memphis in six games after Griffin stepped on teammate Lamar Odom and injured his ankle.
Rivers said he believes in the karmic-like presence of the “basketball gods” — but not in any kind of Clippers curse.
“You make your own luck at the end of the day,” Rivers said. “Like I told Blake last night … right now he’s probably thinking, ‘Why me?’ He’s too good of a guy for this to continue to happen. There’s going to be some kind of sunshine for him at some point. You’ve just got to weather this storm.”
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.