THE FACTS: In about as intense of a regular-season game as you'll find, the Oklahoma City Thunder (9-3) got a 35-point effort from Kevin Durant and outlasted the Los Angeles Clippers (8-3) in overtime, 117-111, in a Western Conference showdown.
Durant had 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and he was 19-for-21 at the free throw line. He also pulled down six rebounds, handed out five assists and had five steals. Point guard Russell Westbrook had 23 points and nine assists and sixth man Kevin Martin struck for 20 on 6-for-10 shooting (3-for-5 on 3-pointers).
The Clippers had a big night from forward Matt Barnes who started the game in place of Caron Butler who was on the bench in street clothes with a strained shoulder. Barnes finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Barnes also got into several shouting matches with both Serge Ibaka (15 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks) and Kendrick Perkins.
It was a loud, raucous playoff atmosphere inside Chesapeake Energy Arena where even Oklahoma favorite son (but now Clipper foe) Blake Griffin was loudly booed at times, after being cheered during player introductions. He led the Clippers with 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting. LA's sixth man Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 20 points.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul, a main focus of the Thunder defense, managed nine points on just 2-for-14 shooting.
QUOTABLE: "Give the Thunder a little credit but we have to do a better job of helping Chris Paul out. We need to open up the floor as much as we can. I was proud of our guys though, we could have folded easily but we kept fighting."
-- Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro
QUOTABLE II: "It was like a playoff game in November. Everybody laid it all on the line tonight. We did a really good job defensively and that's not an easy thing to do against them."
-- Thunder head coach Scott Brooks
THE STAT: In the overtime Durant (nine points) and Westbrook (six points) were the only Thunder players who scored. Each of them hit huge 3-pointers. OKC was 7-for-8 at the free throw line and the Clippers took and made just one shot from the stripe in the final five minutes.
TURNING POINT: The game turned late a couple times, once for the Clippers late in regulation when they went on a 7-2 run to tie the game at 102 and then for OKC in the overtime period. Oklahoma City led 100-95 after a Durant finger roll. He was fouled on the play but missed the free shot. The Clippers then used a 3-pointer from Barnes, two free throws from Paul and another Barnes bucket to tie the game. The Thunder then took control in the overtime with defense and a couple of key three-balls from Westbrook and then Durant.
QUOTABLE III: "Regardless of what anyone says it's gonna be tough for us to win a game when I play that bad. It's tough because you work so hard but there's just gonna be nights like that."
HOT: The Thunder started hot (70 percent) hitting seven of their first 10 shots...OKC was 23-for-26 (88.5 percent) on free throws through the first three quarters...OKC was 34-for-39 (87.2 percent) at the line.
NOT: The Clippers got off to a slow start trying to fight through an active Thunder defense shooting just 33.3 percent (5-for-15) in the first seven minutes of the game. They finished at 43.0 percent...Durant was 4-for-12 (1-for-4 on 3-pointers) through three quarters.
INSIDE THE ARENA: The most energy shown by the crowd in any game so far this season. Clearly the fans realized what a big game this was. It was also the 75th consecutive sellout inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
GOOD MOVE: Thunder head coach Brooks said before the game he planned to show Paul a lot of different defensive looks. In the first half Westbrook, Sefolosha, Martin, Durant and even center Perkins all took turns on CP3 and it worked. Paul was 1-for-12 (seven points) in regulation.
GOOD MOVE TOO: Halfway through the third quarter a pass intended for Sefolosha was tipped out of bounds by a Clipper and right into the forehead of an elderly woman sitting courtside. Sefolosha went over to her to make sure she was okay and the Durant walked over, leaned down and gave her a kiss.
NOTABLE: Thunder backup center Hasheem Thabeet tied his career high in points (10) for the second time this season.
UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Friday @ Brooklyn, Saturday @ Atlanta, Monday vs. New Orleans. For the Thunder, Friday @ Boston, Saturday @ Philadelphia, Monday @ Charlotte.