Clippers-Thunder Preview

The Associated Press

Chris Paul has been quite impressive during his record-setting double-double streak, most recently using a late scoring surge to help the Los Angeles Clippers earn another victory.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been winning lately, too, though it hasn't come as easily as they would like.

Paul looks to help guide the Clippers to their second victory over the Thunder in eight days when the teams meet Thursday night in Oklahoma City.

Los Angeles (8-4) has won five of six after Paul scored 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter - 12 in the final 3:41 - of Wednesday's 102-98 win at Minnesota. He also added 11 assists to set an NBA record with 12 straight double-doubles to start a season.

Blake Griffin extended his own double-double streak to five with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

''It's just cool to see the ball go through the net,'' Paul said. ''I'll take it whenever. Fourth quarter is winning time and we're all competitive, but as the leader of the team, me and Blake, we know that's when it's time to win.''

Paul, who is averaging 19.5 points and a league-best 12.5 assists, surpassed Magic Johnson's mark of 11 straight double-doubles to begin the 1990-91 season.

''It's huge man. Magic is a mentor of mine, somebody I look up to,'' Paul said. ''His basketball production was unbelievable so be mentioned in anything with him is huge and an honor.''

Paul had 14 points and 16 assists in a 111-103 home win over the Thunder on Nov. 13 as the Clippers ended a three-game skid in the series. Oklahoma City lost the next night at Golden State after a fourth-quarter rally fell short, and it needed to come on strong late to win its next two contests.

Kevin Durant scored 38 points and Russell Westbrook had 30 and 12 rebounds as the Thunder (7-3) overcame a 14-point second-half deficit to beat Denver 115-113 on Monday.

''It's tough. We can't continue to (fall behind) and put pressure on ourselves," Westbrook said. "We've got to start the game better."

Coach Scott Brooks has been proud of his team's effort, but he agrees with his star point guard that Oklahoma City needs to be consistent throughout the game.

"We're going to keep fighting to the last possession,'' Brooks said. ''That's always been a trademark, but we can't just turn it on the second half. We have to correct that. It's my job to find combinations where guys are going to play with more defensive force.''

Stopping Paul will be a challenge, and Brooks is hoping his team is up for it.

"We want to have better focus on guarding the ball and staying in front of the ball by putting pressure on the ball and making him feel you on the defensive end," Brooks told the team's official website. "When we do that, our activity and our length and our athleticism can really help our defense."

The Thunder started strong and led the Clippers by nine at halftime in the most recent meeting, but they were outscored 30-16 in the third quarter and couldn't recover.

Durant, who is averaging 33.8 points in his last four against Los Angeles, finished that contest with 33 points and 10 assists, while Westbrook matched Durant's assist total and added 19 points.

Griffin had 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

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