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NBA's Newest Star Heads Home To Oklahoma City

(AP) -- A little more than halfway through his first NBA season, Blake Griffin is already the star he was expected to become when drafted No. 1 overall in 2009.

For the first time as a pro, the rookie All-Star plays in his hometown when the Los Angeles Clippers try for a fifth consecutive road victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.

A knee injury kept the Oklahoma City native from playing at all last season, when Los Angeles won 101-93 at the Thunder, but nothing will stop Griffin from taking the court this time.

After competing in his first All-Star game and clearing the hood of a car to win the slam dunk contest over the weekend, Griffin (22.8 points, 12.6 rebounds per game) returns to the area where he starred as a prep for nearby Oklahoma Christian School.

"At home and on the road, he's an exciting player to watch, to get the fans out of their seats," Clippers guard Randy Foye said. "Just like in baseball, chicks dig the long ball. Chicks dig when guys can fly and jump."

While the former national player of the year at Oklahoma hopes to put on a show in his hometown, Griffin's main focus should be helping the Clippers (21-35) remain undefeated against the Thunder (35-19) in Oklahoma City.

The Clippers and Boston are each 3-0 all-time at Oklahoma City, and are the only teams the Thunder have yet to beat on their home floor since relocating from Seattle prior to the 2008-09 season. The Clippers have not lost a road game to the Thunder franchise since Dec. 5. 2007.

They also are looking for a second straight victory overall in this series after winning 107-92 at home Nov. 3. Griffin had 18 points and nine rebounds as the Clippers held the Thunder to 37.8 percent shooting. NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant (28.9 ppg) shot 6 of 24 from the field and finished with 16 points.

The Thunder have shot 40.4 percent and averaged 88.3 points during the four-game home skid versus Los Angeles.

Durant, who had 34 points in Sunday's All-Star game, scored 40 in the teams' last meeting in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder could be in good position to end their home drought against the Clippers. Northwest Division-leading Oklahoma City has won seven of 10 overall, and entered the break with a 126-96 home victory over Sacramento last Tuesday.

Daequan Cook scored 20 points off the bench to lead seven players in double figures for the Thunder, who scored a season-high 68 points in the first half and held the Kings to 40.2 percent shooting on the night.

"It all starts on the defensive end for our team," Cook said. "If we bring it on the defensive end, we are going to get rewarded on the offensive end."

Los Angeles has dropped seven of nine, but entered the break on a positive note by winning 98-90 at Minnesota on Wednesday. Griffin had 29 points to lead all scorers.

Chris Kaman returned after missing 34 games with an ankle injury, and had four points with six rebounds in nine minutes off the bench.

While Kaman is back in the mix, Clippers leading scorer Eric Gordon (24.1 ppg) will miss his 14th straight game due to a broken wrist.

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