Oklahoma City Thunder: Best of the NBA collide Tuesday night in Los Angeles
Thunder (32-9) and Clippers (32-10) are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in this week's NBA.com power rankings. They square off at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at Staples Center.
The Western Conference championship will not be decided Tuesday, but a potential coming attraction will be staged at Staples Center.
The NBA's two best records collide when the Thunder (32-9) and Los Angeles Clippers (32-10) meet at 9:30 p.m.
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OKC and the Clippers are 1-2 in this week's NBA.com power rankings and in four months they could meet again to represent the West in the 2013 NBA Finals.
A bit of the shine was taken off Tuesday's game because both teams are coming off a loss.
The Thunder lost 121-118 in overtime at Denver on Sunday, while the Clippers lost 106-99 at Golden State on Monday after getting outscored 33-19 in the fourth quarter and 14-4 in the final 3½ minutes.
OKC offers three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook, who have comprised the league's highest-scoring tandem the last two seasons, plus power forward Serge Ibaka, who has blocked more shots than any player the last three seasons.
The Clippers feature five-time steals leader and two-time assist champion Chris Paul, an NBA slam dunk champion in former Oklahoma standout Blake Griffin, plus this year's likely Sixth Man of the Year in Jamal Crawford.
Fans voted Durant, Paul and Griffin to start in the 62nd All-Star Game in Houston next month, while Westbrook is considered a lock to be voted on as a reserve by Western Conference coaches.
Westbrook has scored 30-plus points in a career-high four straight games. Although he suffered a sprained left ankle late in the first half Sunday, Westbrook is expected to start against the Clippers. Westbrook has yet to miss a game in his five-year career and his stretch of 353 consecutive games played is the NBA's longest active streak.
This season's previous meeting between the Thunder and Clippers went into overtime. OKC endured with a 117-111 victory on Nov. 21 at Chesapeake Energy Arena, where Durant (nine) and Westbrook (six) scored all of their team's points in overtime.
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