Thunder 109, Clippers 97By Jon Gold, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Wed, Jan 23, 2013 1:20 AM EST
LOS ANGELES -- Kevin Durant had 32 points, seven assists and seven rebounds to lead the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder to a 109-97 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night at Staples Center in a matchup of the two best teams in the NBA. The highly anticipated showdown between the two titans was dimmed by the absence of Clippers guard Chris Paul, who missed his fourth game in two weeks due to a bruised right kneecap. Los Angeles went 3-0 in its previous matchups without Paul -- but those contests weren't against Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant took over a close game in the third quarter, scoring 11 points as the Thunder (33-9) took a commanding lead. Oklahoma City led 49-45 at the half but increased to its advantage to as much as 16 while shooting 75 percent from the field in the third. Westbrook had 26 points, six assists and four rebounds. He also held Los Angeles guard Eric Bledsoe, who started in Paul's absence, to just 5-of-16 shooting and 12 points. Serge Ibaka had 17 points -- including nine in third quarter -- and nine rebounds, and Kevin Martin added 13 points and for the Thunder, who shot 15-for-27 from 3-point range. The other half of the Clippers' terrific twosome -- forward Blake Griffin -- thrived without his running mate but got little support from the rest of the Los Angeles starting lineup. Griffin had 31 points, 11 rebounds and five assists while shooting 11-for-19 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free-throw line. The Clippers' other four starters totaled 28 points on 11-of-26 shooting. Jamal Crawford added 14 points off the bench but shot 6-for-18 from the field for Los Angeles (32-11). NOTES: The Clippers have signed a 10-year extension of their Staples Center lease, the team announced Tuesday. The agreement keeps the Clippers, who started playing in the arena in 1999 along with the Los Angeles Lakers, there through June 2024. ... In addition to Paul, Chauncey Billups (left foot peroneal tendinitis) and Trey Thompkins (left knee bone bruise) missed the game for the Clippers. ... Oklahoma City won the first matchup of the season between the two teams, 117-111 in overtime on Nov. 21. ... Martin and Crawford rank among the best reserves in the NBA in several categories; Martin ranks third in the NBA in bench minutes (30.0 per game) and points (15 ppg), while Crawford ranks fourth (29.2) and second (16.7) in the same categories. ... Just past the halfway point, the Clippers have the best 42-game record in team history by a six-win margin.
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