Notebook: Thunder 109, Clippers 97



Posted Jan 23, 2013 1:46 AM

Dan Arritt, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: Not even Chris Paul could have slowed the second-half onslaught by Kevin Durant and the Thunder. Durant scored 24 of his 32 points in the second half Tuesday night, hitting a big basket every time it seemed the Clippers were beginning a comeback. His efforts helped lift Oklahoma City to a 109-97 victory at Staples Center, clinching the season series between the league's two best teams coming into the day.

THE STAT: The Thunder shot 15-for-27 from 3-point range, the most makes since they moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. They were 11-for-23 from long range in their overtime win earlier this season against L.A. Durant was 5-for-6 from beyond the arc Tuesday, and Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Martin combined to shoot 9-for-16.

QUOTABLE: "You can't go into a game expecting that, or hoping for that."
-- Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks on his team's 3-point shooting.

TURNING POINT: The Thunder held a four-point lead coming out of halftime and immediately stretched it to seven on a 3-pointer by Westbrook. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan made one of two free throws on back-to-back possessions, but Durant hit a 3-pointer after the Jordan's first trip to the line and an 11-footer after the second, pushing the lead to double digits. By the time the quarter ended, the Thunder had increased their advantage to 82-68 by shooting 12-for-16 in the quarter, including 6-for-7 from 3-point range. The Clippers started the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run, but Durant silenced that outburst with another long 3-pointer.

HOT: Buried under the avalanche of 3-pointers by the Thunder was an impressive performance by Clippers forward Blake Griffin. He led the team in points (31), rebounds (11) and assists (five) and tied Jamal Crawford for the most steals (two). Unfortunately, big games from Griffin haven't translated into consistent wins. When he has scored at least 30 points in his career, the Clippers are 9-12.

NOT: Paul missed the game with a bruised right kneecap, the same injury that forced him to sit out three games last week. It was another opportunity for Eric Bledsoe to show what he can do as a starter, a role many think he could play for a number of NBA teams. But the fourth-year player shot 5-for-16 from the floor and scored 12 points. Even worse, he produced only four assists, hardly picking up the slack for Paul. As for the Thunder, center Kendrick Perkins didn't get a chance to show much as he was constantly in foul trouble. He picked up his third late in the first half and was whistled for No. 4 with 10:36 left in the third quarter. Perkins ended up playing just seven minutes, going scoreless with one rebound.

GOOD MOVE: Outside of Martin, the Thunder received no help from their bench in their overtime loss Sunday in Denver. Martin scored 18 points in the game, but no other reserve registered a point. Oklahoma City made up for that in the first half against the Clippers, getting 21 points from their bench and outplaying L.A.'s bench unit, which has been one of the best in the NBA this season. Martin contributed 13 points against the Clippers, but it was the eight first-half points from Nick Collison that did just as much damage.

BAD MOVE: Griffin had one of his best games of the season, but he might have made his worst pass. With the Clippers beginning to fade late in the third quarter, Griffin stole a pass from Westbrook and set out on a fast break. The Thunder also had numbers, however, and Griffin tried a behind-the-back pass from the top of the key anyway. The ball didn't get near his intended target and Sefolosha easily stole it back. That led to a transition basket for Oklahoma City, stretching its lead to 16.

QUOTABLE II: "I didn't think we had a very efficient game on the defensive end and I think we were stagnant on the offensive end. We didn't have our floor general out there, but that's no excuse."
-- Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro

NOTABLE: Westbrook finished with 26 points, ending his career-best streak of 30-point games at four. ... The Thunder had lost four straight games to the Clippers at Staples Center. ... Ten of L.A.'s next 11 games are away from Staples Center.

UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Thursday @ Phoenix, Saturday @ Portland, Sunday vs. Portland. For the Thunder, Wednesday @ Golden State, Friday @ Sacramento, Sunday @ L.A. Lakers.