LOS ANGELES • In a long-anticipated revenge game against his former team, Blake Griffin punished the Los Angeles Clippers in every conceivable manner on Saturday.
Draining three-pointers, throwing down hammer dunks, hitting the deck for loose balls and inviting chippy altercations, the Clippers could not contain him as they slumped to a 109-104 National Basketball Association loss to the visiting Detroit Pistons.
But Griffin swore the only message he sent came during the game, and not beforehand.
The five-time All-Star, who told reporters he has had no contact with the Clippers' front office since they abruptly traded him a year ago, had a game-high 44 points after shooting 13-of-23 from the field and drilling five beyond the arc.
Afterwards, he was adamant that a viral video, which appeared to show him ignoring an attempted handshake from Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, was not an intentional snubbing of his former boss.
"For nine years now, as soon as I'm done with my pre-game shooting, I make sure there's a path and I take off running to the locker room.
"I don't stop running. A lot of you have seen me do that before. I don't change that for anybody. To tweet out something like that, I thought was kind of b*******.
"That's what it was. Plain and simple. It wasn't anything planned. Every single game I've done this for how long."
Even so, his ongoing frustration at being blindsided by the blockbuster trade - after spending his first eight seasons in the league with the Clippers - was evident.
Asked whether he would shake hands with Ballmer if the opportunity presented itself again, he curtly said: "I'm honestly not here to answer hypothetical questions."
The Clippers did their part to be nice, welcoming back Griffin with an extended tribute video. The Staples Centre crowd also greeted him with a standing ovation and his highlight plays drew scattered cheers all night.
Nevertheless, the home team, who fell to 24-18, were on the wrong end of the full Griffin experience all afternoon as the forward became the first Pistons player since Jerry Stackhouse in 2001 to tally multiple 40-point games in the same season.
Celebratory whoops could be heard from inside the Pistons' locker room following their victory and team coach Dwane Casey revealed that "it meant a lot to Blake".
He added: "The most important thing was his teammates were excited for him."