By Mike Monroe
A crowd of reporters and camera operators formed a semi-circle around DeJuan Blair’s locker after the undersized center proved you don’t have to leap over a car to help the Spurs beat the Clippers.
Faced away from prying eyes and ears, Blair tied his shoes while teammate T.J. Ford told him he was about to be a local media star.
“I don’t want to be famous,” Blair said to his new backup point guard. “I just want to be regular old DeJuan, too fat to do anything good.”
Blair’s not fat, but he is a wide-bodied big man who admits he can’t jump like Blake Griffin, the Clippers All-Star who soared over a sedan to win last season’s dunk contest.
On Wednesday at the ATT Center, Blair’s earth-bound game was plenty enough. He scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 115-90 Spurs victory, and there was not much Griffin could do about it.
The victory extended the Spurs’ home-court mastery of the Clippers to 17 games. L.A. last won here on Jan. 31, 2002.
There was an expectation that Wednesday’s game would be more difficult than the previous 16. The Clippers had added two All-Star guards, Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups, and another standout starter, Caron Butler, who the Spurs tried to recruit as a free agent.
It didn’t matter, not with Blair countering most of what Griffin did and Manu Ginobili and Richard Jefferson combining to make 8 of 12 on 3-pointers.
Off to a 2-0 start, the easy victory even allowed coach Gregg Popovich to curtail the court ? time for his starters, none of whom played more than 27 minutes.
The 6-foot-10 Griffin, who was the No. 1 overall pick in a 2009 draft in which Blair fell to the Spurs in the second round, scored 28 points in 33 minutes. Blair needed little more than 26 minutes to record the sixth 20-point game of his career.
“DeJuan was great,” said Tim Duncan, one of six Spurs who scored in double figures. “He made some great shots in there. He was solid on Blake. He rebounded the ball well and just picked up where he left off last year.
“He gets you those points you don’t count on and continues to attack and continues to be aggressive. He was big for us.”
Duncan’s not sure how the 6-7 Blair accomplishes what he does around the basket.
“You know what?” Duncan said. “He’s done it all his life. He doesn’t know any other way to do it, and he’s very good at it. He’s got a great touch and a great feel for the game. You can’t teach that to people. He just knows how to do it.”
Blair said he would challenge Griffin, whom he counts among his good basketball friends, and that’s what he did. He backed up his pledge, finding ways to score against him and 7-foot Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.
“I just try to read them,” Blair said. “They are very athletic and jump very high. I can jump a little bit, but it’s all about reading them. I’m undersized. I just try to find little schemes and everything to get around the taller defenders, and that’s what I try to do.
“I watch a lot of Charles Barkley and Karl Malone and try to do that, try to get a little shot. But I’m doing good and doing great with what I’m doing, so I’m good.”
What Blair was doing included hitting scoop shots, putbacks and even a fadeaway jumper from the baseline that he called “a little something coming out of my bag.”