Dominant Durant lifts Thunder over Clippers
(UPDATE) Kevin Durant put on a second-half show to help Oklahoma City overwhelm the Los Angeles Clippers 109-97 on Tuesday in a possible dress rehearsal for this season's Western Conference finals.
|Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant slam dunks against the Los Angeles Clippers during their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles January 22, 2013. Photo by Lucy Nicholson, Reuters.
Durant caught fire with 24 of his game-high 32 points coming in the final two quarters, where the league's leading scorer mixed three-point bombs with a forceful dunk to carry the NBA-leading Thunder (33-9) to an emphatic road victory.
"My shots were falling and my team mates were getting offensive rebounds and kicking it out for (three-pointers)," Durant told reporters. "When we're driving and kicking, we're pretty good."
Despite playing without injured point guard Chris Paul, the Clippers trailed by just four at halftime but were out-scored 33-23 in the third quarter to slip to a 14-point deficit.
Oklahoma City extended the advantage by a further two points early in the fourth before Los Angeles trimmed the advantage in the closing minutes.
Russell Westbrook added 26 points and six assists for the defending conference champion Thunder, who have now won seven of eight games.
The Clippers (32-11) entered the contest with the second best record in the West but slipped to third behind San Antonio (33-11) despite 31 points and 11 rebounds from Blake Griffin.
Paul was sidelined for the fourth time in six games because of a right knee ailment and Los Angeles missed his play-making ability in their second straight loss.
The Clippers kept things close until Durant sparked the visitors with 11 points in the third. He added 13 more in the fourth including a monster one-handed slam over frozen defender Lamar Odom.
Durant's shooting touch seemed to rub off on his team mates as the Thunder made 15-of-27 three-pointer attempts on the night.
"We have to run them off threes and make them beat us with something else," Los Angeles reserve Jamal Crawford said.
"(Durant and Westbrook) are a dynamic duo. We'll see them again." (Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)