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Shorthanded Clippers Can’t Handle Durant, Thunder

Posted By Taylor Smith On Jan 23 2013 @ 2:07 pm In Los Angeles Clippers,NBA | No Comments

Kevin Durant led all scorers with 32 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder toppled the Los Angeles Clippers 109-97 at Staples Center Tuesday night.

The Clippers were without Chris Paul, who missed the game with his bruised right knee. He had played in Monday’s 106-99 loss to the Golden State Warriors, but was clearly not at 100 percent, scoring just four points on 1-7 shooting in 33 hobbled minutes. This was the fourth game he’s missed with the injury.

L.A. did get 31 points and 11 rebounds from Blake Griffin Tuesday evening, but not much else. The next leading scorer was Jamal Crawford, who scored 14 off-the-bench. However, he made just six of his 18 field goal attempts.

OKC went into halftime with a four-point advantage after the two teams finished the first period tied at 22. Then, a big three-pointer surge from the Thunder effectively buried the Clippers in the second half.

Durant scored 24 of his 32 points in the second half, including three consecutive devastating three-pointers in the fourth quarter.

As a team, the Thunder made an incredible 15 of their 27 attempts from beyond-the-arc. Defending the three has become a major issue for the Clippers, as they allowed the Warriors to make 12 of their 22 threes just a day prior, including four from Stephen Curry in the final period.

This was a matchup between the two teams with the best records in the NBA, and, even without Chris Paul in the lineup, OKC showed L.A. why they’re the defending Western Conference champions.

The Clips tried to rally in the fourth, but were never able to close the margin to within seven points.

Russell Westbrook added 26 points for the Thunder (33-9), while Kevin Martin, the primary acquisition in the James Harden trade, chipped-in with 13 off-the-bench.

Martin was able to spark Oklahoma City in the middle of the first half with Durant struggling to find his touch. He buried three-straight threes at the end of the first and beginning of the second quarter, and scored 11 of his 13 prior to the half.

OKC shot nearly 53 percent from the floor, while the Clippers middled around 46 percent, including a woeful 4-16 from three.

For the second consecutive game, three-pointers were what would ultimately doom the Clippers, who fell to 32-11 on the season.

L.A. will now play 10 of their next 11 games away from home, starting in Phoenix on Thursday for a date with the struggling Suns. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City will head north to take on the surging Warriors on Wednesday.

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