LOS ANGELES – The 2014 NBA playoffs didn't get off to the best of starts for Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin. He played just 19 minutes before fouling out with 48.3 seconds left in the Clippers' 109-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the opener of their first-round series.
And one of his most effective shots of the game came when he drenched a Warriors fan with water.
Shortly after fouling out, Griffin was watching a replay of the call with a cup of water in his right hand in front of the scorer's table. He threw up his arms in apparent frustration and the water landed directly on Will Meldman, a 22-year-old Warriors fan from San Francisco.
Meldman, who was wearing a yellow "We are Warriors" shirt, wasn't sure if Griffin intentionally tried to douse him. The Clippers gave him a towel to dry off.
"Honestly, I think it fell out of his hand," Meldman said. "He fouled out and he was frustrated, so it just fell out of his hand. It just slipped out.
"It may or may not be on purpose."
Meldman's reaction when the water hit him: " 'Bro, c'mon. I'm trying to watch the game.' "
Griffin said he didn't try to get Meldman wet.
"I didn't know what I did, but it wasn't full," Griffin said. "I apologize. It was water."
Meldman's friend, Justin Wolf, who was seated next to him, thought Griffin knew exactly what he was doing.
"I thought it was intentional," Wolf said. "He tends to do a little [expletive] during games, and he might have been pissed off on what [Warriors guard] Klay [Thompson] said."
Before the start of the series, Thompson called Griffin a "bull in a china shop," and said he plays "a little out of control." Griffin lived up to that assessment in Game 1. He was productive when he was on the court, scoring 16 points in the 19 minutes, but couldn't stay on the floor long enough because of foul trouble.
"You just have to adjust," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "Unfortunately for him, I thought he was going to have a really good game. It looked like he was going to play well. It's tough to get your rhythm when you go in and out like that and you only play 19 minutes. And I'm sure Blake would like to have a couple of those fouls back. You can't waste fouls."
The Clippers and Warriors don't care much for each other, and their four regular-season meetings resulted in a handful of altercations between players. That bad blood might have contributed to officials calling a total of 51 fouls on the two teams in hopes of limiting any extra physicality in the series' opener.
"I thought all the hype absolutely had an impact on how the game was called," Rivers said. "There's no doubt about that – a lot of tight, touch fouls. I thought of Blake's six [fouls], three were probably touch fouls. … The way I look at it, both teams had to play under the same rules. And they did a better job of playing under the same rules than we did."