The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-97 on Monday night, in a competition that ended much more excitingly than was expected.
Kevin Durant continues storming through the West with his incredibly hot, incredibly dominant performances: he had 32 points and 7 rebounds on the night, but the show he put on in the second half was a sight to behold. Russell Westbrook played another strong game and finished with 26 points, while Serge Ibaka added 17 more.
For Los Angeles, Blake Griffin had double-double figures with 31 points and 11 rebounds, but it was not enough to overcome the assault of Oklahoma City nor the absence of Chris Paul.
In winning, the Thunder now have a game-and-a-half lead on the Clippers, as well as the best record in both the West and the entire NBA.
The Clippers in the first half looked to make the game as exciting as was anticipated, even leading for much of the first quarter. At the end of the first quarter Oklahoma City and Los Angeles were tied at 22, and going into the half they only trailed by four, 49-45.
After the half though, the Clip Show without Chris Paul proved to be a no-show, and the Thunder–who shot 51-percent in the first half–would go on a dominant rampage.
OKC made 12 of their 16 shots in the third quarter and knocked down six of seven shots from beyond the arc. As a team, they drained 15 three-pointers, a new team record.
Durant was absolutely unstoppable, seemingly taking whatever shot he pleased, nailing it, and making it look easy. His most jaw-dropping moment came in the fourth quarter when he drove down the lane, cocked back, and slammed down a monster dunk over Lamar Odom.
To their credit, the Clippers–despite trailing by 16 at one point in the fourth quarter–refused to go away so easily. They crawled back in it to cut the lead to eight, thanks to a few big-time three pointers of their own, and points made off of back-to-back offensive fouls by Ibaka. Oklahoma City outscored them by 33 points beyond the arc, yet the Clippers managed to lose by a much narrower margin of 12.
Without Paul, the Clippers looked listless and without direction at times, particularly in the third quarter. Expect this match-up to have a lot more life in it when these teams meet again with Paul back in the rotation.
Oklahoma City had previously loss for straight games to the Clippers in Los Angeles, so this win was yet another huge road victory for this squad.
The Thunder advance to 33-9 on the season, and face the Golden State Warriors next on Wed., Jan. 23.