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.
By John Rohde Published: January 21, 2013


photo - Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) shoots between Los Angeles Clippers forwards Matt Barnes, left, and Blake Griffin (32) in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Oklahoma City won in overtime, 117-111. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) ORG XMIT: OKSO113
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) shoots between Los Angeles Clippers forwards Matt Barnes, left, and Blake Griffin (32) in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Oklahoma City won in overtime, 117-111. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) ORG XMIT: OKSO113

“It was like a playoff game in November,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said that night.

The Clippers have beaten OKC four straight times at Staples Center and that streak likely will continue if the Thunder doesn't get a better contribution from its bench.

The Nuggets bench on Sunday outscored the Thunder bench 57-18, a season-high for Denver subs. Every OKC bench point was scored by sixth man Kevin Martin.

The Clippers' bench is so deep rumors swirl of a potential trade involving Eric Bledsoe, which coach Vinny Del Negro viewed as a positive.

“A lot of guys' names will come up, but that's a good thing,” Del Negro told the Los Angeles Daily News recently. “That means people want you. That's a positive thing. There'll be all these rumors out there and things being said, and most of them probably won't be very accurate.

“As guys' names are out there, we'll discuss things with them if there's anything to it or whatever. I don't see that being an issue for us. We've got pretty good balance on that and obviously, I'm always available.”

Bledsoe is averaging 18.9 minutes per game backing up Paul at point guard, but those minutes will become increasingly more difficult to find once Chauncey Billups returns from a foot injury.

Given how loaded the West is loaded with San Antonio (33-11), Memphis (26-14), Golden State (25-15) and Denver (25-18) all making noise, there is no guarantee the Thunder and Clippers are on a collision course for the conference crown.

However, both teams are steamrolling in that direction and one team will pick up a bit more steam Tuesday night.



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