Thunder 105, Clippers 91

Michael Kinney, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Forward Kevin Durant posted 28 points, eight assists and six rebounds, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 105-91 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The game was a rematch of a contest last week in which a near-brawl led to two ejections. There was no such drama this time around as the Thunder (8-3) grabbed a lead early and never relinquished it to the Clippers (8-5).
Forward Blake Griffin paced the Clippers with 27 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Los Angeles guard Chris Paul contributed 17 points and 12 assists.
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, who was thrown out of the previous matchup, finished with 17 points and five rebounds. Guard Russell Westbrook collected 12 points, six rebounds and five assists in the win.
Durant began the night on the attack. Regardless of which defender the Clippers put on him, Durant was able to get off long-range jumpers and drive to the rim. He collected 12 points in the opening quarter as Oklahoma City grabbed a double-digit lead.
Guard Jamal Crawford (18 points) came off the Clippers' bench to halt the tide and help close the gap to 28-22 heading into the second quarter.
With Oklahoma City's starters on the bench, the Thunder went on a 13-6 run to start the second. However, after Paul was called for a flagrant-1 foul on guard Thabo Sefolosha, the Clippers began to find their shot and closed within 51-43 at halftime.
After a slow first half, Griffin heated up in the third quarter. The Oklahoma City native made seven consecutive shots in a variety of ways, inside and outside.
Even so, Los Angeles was unable to gain ground. Durant and Ibaka matched Griffin shot for shot as the Thunder held a 81-72 advantage after three quarters.
Once again Oklahoma City went to its reserves to hold onto a lead in the fourth quarter. This time it was the three-guard lineup of Jeremy Lamb, Derek Fisher and Reggie Jackson who gave the Clippers fits. The Thunder pushed the lead to 14 and cruised the rest of the way.
NOTES: The Thunder's proficient shooting is starting to rub off on its fans. For the second game in a row, a fan hit a half-court shot for $20,000. On Monday, Cameron Rodriguez became the fourth Thunder fan this calendar year to do it. Brad Rucker is the fifth after he drained his attempt Thursday. Three connected from half-court at the end of 2012-13. ... Clippers G Matt Barnes sat out his second consecutive game due to an eye contusion that he suffered against the Memphis Grizzlies. He is expected to have retina surgery and miss the next two weeks. ... Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers put F Blake Griffin in some esteemed company when talking about Griffin not responding to the hard fouls he takes. "To me, that's the toughest guy you can be," Rivers said. "Gandhi, Martin Luther King, those guys were tough. They took the hits and kept preaching." ... Sitting courtside were Jay-Z and Beyonce.

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