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It's a sweet homecoming for Clippers' Blake Griffin

SportsLos Angeles ClippersNBAPro BasketballBlake GriffinBasketballChris Paul
via LA Times: Clippers' Blake Griffin is embraced in return to Oklahoma
via LA Times: Blake Griffin helps pave way for Chris Paul in Game 1

Blake Griffin was introduced and there were cheers mixed in with the boos.

He appeared to flop and no one in the crowd seemed to mind.

He glared at fans after a vicious dunk and didn't elicit a response.

The Clippers forward didn't just go home again Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena during his team's 122-105 romp over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

He owned the place.

The fans made Griffin feel so welcome that they wore T-shirts matching the Clippers' blue road jerseys, though it was just an odd coincidence.

Griffin, who attended nearby Oklahoma Christian School and the University of Oklahoma, finished with 23 points, five rebounds and five assists while smartly deferring to Chris Paul on a night his teammate made 12 of 14 shots and eight of nine three-pointers.

"When somebody's got it going like that," Griffin said, "you just want to try to stay out the way as much as possible and also help keep that fire going."

Griffin helped by continually setting picks to free Paul for jumpers and drives to the basket. By the end of a first quarter in which Paul made all five of his three-pointers and scored 17 points, it was obvious where the ball should go.

"That first quarter was crazy," Griffin said, "so we were trying to spring him, get him open."

Griffin also contributed by banking in jumpers, driving for layups and throwing three lobs to DeAndre Jordan for dunks. He made seven of 16 shots but was an efficient nine for 12 from the free-throw line.

Fans gave Griffin a pass in the first half when he drew a disputed charging foul on Kevin Durant, no one commencing the "Flop-per" chant that had become popular on the road during the Clippers' first-round series against Golden State.

Griffin did manage to find one nemesis in Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka, who drew a technical foul in the third quarter after a play in which Griffin was knocked to the court and Ibaka appeared to try to break a leg lock by kicking Griffin.

"I was just laying on the ground and he just kind of kicked me," Griffin said.

But did Griffin have his legs wrapped around Ibaka's?

"Yeah, it felt like that," Griffin said.

Regardless, the Clippers booted the perception they would be too tired to win a series opener on the road 48 hours after they finished an emotionally draining week that included a racially charged controversy involving owner Donald Sterling.

"Mentally, we were really strong tonight," Griffin said. "Playing a Game 7 and flying here, it was kind of a quick turnaround — it was for both teams — but I thought mentally we locked in and took care of it."

Of course, the cheers didn't hurt.

"It's always great to come back home," Griffin said. "This is home and that will never change no matter how many playoff series we play against the Thunder."

Griffin had said before the series that he hoped his mother would bake a strawberry cake for his teammates, though they're still waiting.

Said Paul: "I haven't gotten any yet."

Explained Griffin: "I don't want everybody to have a sugar overload before Game 2, so it will be on the plane for everybody going back home. So we'll have that to look forward to."

Another victory here and the hometown hero will have his cake and … well, you know.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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