The NBA is familiar with Hack-a-Shaq. On Tuesday night, the Thunder instituted Rake-a-Blake.
Whenever Blake Griffin got close to the basket and there was the potential for him to add to his already impressive highlight footage, Thunder players were under strict orders to wrap up the Los Angeles Clippers' rookie sensation and make him shoot free throws.
And when you foul, make it count.
In one of the more physical games of the season under the basket, the Thunder posted a 111-88 victory before a sellout crowd of 18,203 inside Oklahoma City Arena.
Despite all the abuse, the 6-foot-10, 251-pound former Oklahoma standout still finished with his 47th double-double of the season and two assists shy of a triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
Griffin's kryptonite remains at the free-throw line, where he is shooting 62 percent on the season. He finished 10 for 17 in his first game as a pro in Oklahoma.
“Too many turnovers (17) and too many missed free throws (12),” coach Vinny Del Negro said, explaining his team's loss.
Led by Griffin's 12 points and five rebounds in the early going, the Clippers jumped out to six-point advantage in the first quarter, but the Thunder closed out the half with a 16-2 run and never looked back.
“They stepped on it tonight,” Griffin said afterward. “I have to give them credit.”
Griffin was referring to OKC stepping on the throttle, but essentially could have been referencing the Thunder stepping on his throat. OKC players didn't back down from the 21-year-old phenom all night.
“We had a body on him every time,” veteran Thunder forward Nick Collison said. “He likes to get space and take off, but we got a lot of bodies on him. He is a very athletic player.”
Understandably, Griffin admitted being tired from a jam-packed All-Star Weekend in his home arena, where he won the premier events on three straight nights — the Rookie Challenge, dunk contest and All-Star Game.
Afterward, Griffin exchanged pleasantries at midcourt with All-Star Kevin Durant, fellow dunk contest competitor Serge Ibaka and rookie Cole Aldrich.
“He is the man here,” Durant said of Griffin. “He is still the man here in Oklahoma City. We knew there would be a lot of fans here to see him. We just tried not to worry about that too much and went out there and played our game.”