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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 19: Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers calls out in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest apart of NBA All-Star Saturday Night at Staples Center on February 19, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Blake Griffin was unstoppable in the first half, then silent in the second.
On this night, the Los Angeles Clippers didn't need him.
Griffin scored all of his 26 points in the first half and Los Angeles beat the Washington Wizards 122-101 on Saturday in a matchup between the last two No. 1 overall draft picks.
Griffin got the best of John Wall both on the scoreboard and in the individual battle, as Wall finished with 25 points, although the rookie from Kentucky also added eight assists and seven rebounds.
Griffin was everywhere in the first half, dominating the Wizards' post players with his strength and post-up moves. In the game's first 10 minutes, Griffin scored 16 points and put nearly every Washington big man in foul trouble as the Clippers went on a 23-3 run to build a 32-13 lead.
"Blake got us going," Los Angeles coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We wanted the ball inside and to get to the free throw line and control the game that way, and I thought he got us off to a great start."
The Clippers are used to these kinds of impressive performances from Griffin, especially early in games.
"I don't know what it is about the first quarter, but he always starts us out right,'' Los Angeles guard Eric Bledsoe said. "He's just terrific in the first quarter."
Griffin finished the half 8 of 15 from the floor and 10 of 11 from the line, in what appeared to be the start of a very big night for the All-Star forward.
"My teammates found me early and I just got into a rhythm," Griffin said. "I felt pretty good in the first half and we just all moved the ball and were hitting shots."
Griffin, however, only took two more shots the rest of the night. But as the Clippers fought off a Washington rally and extended the lead, Griffin was able to enjoy the game from the Los Angeles bench.
"Just sitting there on the bench, talking with Mo Williams and Randy (Foye), was nice,'' Griffin said. ``I think that was the first time this year we've gotten to sit. At this point of the season, having played so many games and so many minutes, it's just nice to sit there."
Washington made things interesting, closing the Clippers' 19-point lead to 68-65 with 8:36 left in the third quarter. But Los Angeles went on a 29-8 burst over the third and fourth periods to cruise to its fifth win in six games.
Leading the charge was Williams, who scored 22 points, and Bledsoe, who racked up a career-high 23 points in his first matchup with former college teammate Wall.
"I just came out and tried to be aggressive," Bledsoe said. "I tried to bring the energy that we needed."
Jordan Crawford scored 16 points for the Wizards, who have lost 19 of 22 and are beginning to show frustration in their slide.
"We know it's a rebuilding process right now and there's going to be ups and downs," Wall said. "I hoped this year would be better but it's tough right now. All we can try to do is finish strong."
Los Angeles shot 23 free throws in the first quarter, compared to 21 field goal attempts, in racking up 38 points - the most given up by the Wizards in the opening frame this season.
Griffin saved his trademark theatrics for the second quarter, hooking up with Williams on an alley-oop that drew "ooohs" from the sellout crowd midway through the period. He then followed with a rainbow fadeaway jumper to give the Clippers a 61-46 lead with 3:13 remaining and added an emphatic swat of Wall's drive on the Wizards' next shot attempt.
"Blake Griffin is a phenomenal player," Washington coach Flip Saunders said.
Wall did his best to keep Washington in the game, sprinting through Los Angeles' defense to score 19 first-half points on 18 attempts as the Wizards went into the break trailing 64-55.