Thunder 111, Clippers 88
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)
Blake Griffin's return home featured a rousing start and a forgettable finish.
Griffin made a run at his first career triple-double but came up two assists shy. He followed his slam dunk title and rare All-Star appearance by a rookie by amassing 28 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, but the Clippers sorely missed him when he was out of the game.
Los Angeles gave up a 15-0 run with Griffin on the bench at the end of the first half with three fouls, and he was out again when the Thunder put it away early in the fourth quarter.
''This is where Blake started his career and went to college. It was just a homecoming for him, but the game was no different - us trying to come into tonight and get a victory,'' Green said.
After a weekend when he leaped over the hood of a car to become the NBA slam dunk champion in his home arena, it was back to the road for Griffin and the Clippers. Los Angeles fell to 2-7 on an 11-game road trip that was interrupted by the All-Star break and ends in its own arena as the away team against the Lakers.
''Definitely tired from the All-Star weekend. However, every team has to play on the road and we just need to do a better job of keeping our stamina up,'' said Griffin, who logged his 47th double-double and matched his career high in assists.
James Harden added 19 points off the bench and Russell Westbrook scored 13 for the Thunder, who snapped a four-game home losing streak against the Clippers dating back to the franchise's time in Seattle. Durant and Westbrook got the entire fourth quarter off with a visit to league-leading San Antonio looming Wednesday.
''I'm excited. I think we're starting to transform into a different team these last 27 games,'' Durant said. ''We're moving in the right direction.''
The Thunder's win was all but overshadowed by the return of Griffin, who grew up winning four straight state titles in Oklahoma City before playing two seasons down the road at the University of Oklahoma and being selected the college player of the year.
He received a hearty ovation when he was the fourth Clippers starter introduced, but soon enough he was bringing on groans and boos from the crowd. He drew two fouls against Green in the first 72 seconds and scored the first eight points for Los Angeles.
Just past the midway point of the first quarter, Griffin had also drawn two fouls against Serge Ibaka - Green's replacement - and one apiece against Nenad Krstic and Nick Collison while racking up 12 points and five rebounds.
All the fouls were a part of Thunder coach Scott Brooks' game plan, refusing to let Griffin energize his team.
''You wrap him up, put him at the line, don't let them play to their strengths,'' Brooks said. ''We have enough bodies that we can throw multiple players at players.''
Eventually, the tables turned.
The game was tied at 44 when Griffin picked up his third foul with 4 minutes left in the first half and left the game. Krstic converted a three-point play to put the Thunder on top, and Oklahoma City reeled off the last 15 points of the quarter to take a 62-46 halftime lead after Daequan Cook's 3-pointer.
Griffin had the first three baskets as Los Angeles mounted a 14-6 comeback, getting within 76-67 on Eric Bledsoe's 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:34 left in the third quarter. But then the Clippers went 11 straight possessions without scoring - again with Griffin on the bench - and Oklahoma City scored 12 straight points.
''It was kind of turnover after turnover, and we were chasing them again,'' Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. ''Too many turnovers and too many missed free throws.''
Harden and Green started the fourth with back-to-back 3-pointers, and Harden's second straight layup made it 88-67 with 8:44 to play.
By the time Griffin came back and threw down one of his highlight-reel dunks - a right-handed alley-oop slam - it hardly mattered. He picked up his eighth assist on Bledsoe's 3 with 3:43 left but was pulled with the rest of the Clippers' starters 20 seconds later.
''The guy is really a good player. I don't look at him and say that he is a good young player. He is a man already, and he has proved that this entire season,'' Brooks said.
''You don't do what he does night in and night out. Some players can have a game like this every now and then, but he's consistent. He brings everything he has every night.''
Durant, the reigning NBA scoring champion and current scoring leader, went as far as saying Griffin was ''still the man in Oklahoma City.''
''Kevin has been the man since the first year we moved here, and that won't change at all,'' Green said. ''He was just being humble.''
Notes: Clippers C Chris Kaman scored eight points in 20 minutes in his second game back after missing more than two months with a left ankle injury. ... Oklahoma City's 28 games left after the All-Star break rank second in the Western Conference, behind only Sacramento. Next up are road games at San Antonio and Orlando and then a Sunday home game against the Los Angeles Lakers. ''We can't look ahead,'' Brooks said. ''If you do, it's overwhelming.'' ... Among those seated courtside were former Oklahoma football players Sam Bradford and Jermaine Gresham, Toronto Blue Jays World Series hero Joe Carter (an Oklahoma City native) and former Gov. Brad Henry.