The No. 2 spot in the Western Conference standings will be on the line this afternoon as the Los Angeles Clippers host the Oklahoma City Thunder at 3:30 p.m. EST.
This will be the third time this season that the Thunder and Clippers play. The Thunder won each of the first two meetings, once in OKC and once in LA.
The Thunder needed overtime to beat the Clippers 117-111 back on Nov. 21 in OKC. Kevin Durant had 35 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals to lead the Thunder. KD went 7-for-19 from the field but also 19-for-21 from the free throw line.
Russell Westbrook had 23 in the game and Kevin Martin had 20 off the bench. The Thunder got a big lift from Hasheem Thabeet in that game who had 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting in 12 minutes.
The Thunder then won 109-97 on Jan. 22 in LA. Chris Paul did not play in that game so the Thunder had no problem winning.
Durant had 32 and Westbrook had 26. Serge Ibaka and Martin combined for 30.
The Clippers will be at full strength this afternoon and have won eight of their last nine games since Paul returned from injury with an average margin of victory of 15.5 points.
The Thunder had a three-game winning streak snapped two nights ago when they lost 105-103 in Denver on a last-second shot by Ty Lawson.
The Thunder have been going through an interesting stretch lately where all of their wins have been blowouts and they have been losing most of their close games.
The Thunder have been shaky on the road this season, especially lately. They often end up turning into a two-man show with Durant and Westbrook doing all the scoring while the role players shy away.
Martin only had three points Friday night vs. Denver and will definitely need to give the Thunder more today if they expect to beat the Clippers.
Thabo Sefolosha will also be very important in this game as he will likely have the assignment of checking Paul for most of the game. This will leave Westbrook to play the passing lanes off the ball quite a bit which he has been great at this season.
Beating the Clippers all starts with shutting down or at least slowing down Paul. The Thunder have been able to do this in the past but they have also been dominated by Paul as well.
OKC is really in need of a statement win at this point in the season and beating the Clippers on national television would certainly qualify as that.