Then they shut down the high-powered Los Angeles Clippers, 95-91 Wednesday night.
Griffin scored 26 points in the first three quarters, but was limited to one point in the final 12 minutes, when he was 0 for 4 from the field, including a pair of misses in the final 20 seconds.
Al Jefferson had 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead Charlotte to its first win over the Clippers in their last seven tries. The veteran center was 12 of 23 from the field as the Bobcats won for the third time in their last four games at home.
“We weren’t hitting a lot of shots tonight and Blake saved us for a long time,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Then they started trapping him. We got great 3-point looks. Some nights they go in and some nights they don’t. Tonight was one of the nights where they didn’t go in for us for the most part.”
Although the Bobcats did come up with a steal on Griffin when they doubled him once in the low post late in the game, the Clippers power forward said it wasn’t necessarily anything Charlotte did defensively that led to the loss.
The Clippers were 9 of 27 from the field in the fourth quarter.
“We missed shots,” Griffin said.
That, and a heads-up play by Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson.
With the game tied at 89, Ramon Sessions drove the lane and tossed up a floater up that hit nothing.
However, a cutting Henderson circled underneath the basket, caught the loose ball and — before the Clippers could react — elevated from the side of the rim and dunked for the go-ahead points with 22.5 seconds left.
The Clippers had two chances to tie the game, but Jamal Crawford missed a layup and Griffin couldn’t connect on the putback.
Josh McRoberts sank two foul shots with 13.9 seconds left to push the lead to four. Griffin missed another layup and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added two more free throws with 7.7 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
Henderson finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
The Clippers fell to 11-12 on the road this season and 6-3 since Chris Paul was forced to the bench with an injured right shoulder.
“Our defense,” Jefferson said of the difference in the game. “We got stops and we got rebounds when we needed to. They’re a heckuva team, an offensive machine even when their best player isn’t on the floor. We just had to dig down and get stops when we needed to. And we did a good job of attacking the paint. We deserved to win this one.”
Jefferson was a beast down low.
He came in with the hot hand for the Bobcats, averaging 25.5 points and 12.7 rebounds while shooting 55.8 percent over the last six games and didn’t let up against the Clippers.
“He is showing his versatility,” Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. “He is getting the ball closer to the basket more consistently. I think it is the extra work he is doing to strengthen his ankle. He can pivot on both feet now.”
The Bobcats didn’t seem to have an answer for Griffin early as he proved too physical for McRoberts and Cody Zeller in the low post and too quick for Jefferson. But as the game went on the Bobcats doubled him more in the low post and Griffin didn’t post up much in the closing minutes.
It was a big win for Charlotte, which improved to 2-0 without point guard Kemba Walker, who is expected to be back in about 10 days after spraining his ankle.
Sessions had 10 points and a season-high eight assists in his place and journeyman backup Jannero Pargo had 11 points, including seven in the fourth quarter.
The Clippers came in having won their previous six games against the Bobcats by an average of 16.7 points.
But it was the Bobcats who were in control most of this game.
Charlotte took a 72-70 lead into the fourth quarter before opening a seven-point lead behind Pargo, who knocked down three jumpers.
“You can honestly say, that was the key stretch to the game, when he got going,” Clifford said. “Against a team that is so explosive, playing from ahead is always easier. (Pargo) has done a great job.”
Pargo has 22 points in two games with Walker out. … Jefferson has scored 20 or more points in seven straight games. … Griffin has scored in double digits in every game he’s played this season. … The Bobcats have won a league-best 11 games by six points or less.