Kevin Durant had 42 points and 10 assists.
Serge Ibaka dropped 20 points in the first three quarters.
The Thunder offense returned to form on Sunday, scoring 117 points a game after it tied a season-low with 81.
But Oklahoma City’s defense lingered as a trouble spot, yielding a season-high in points during its 125-117 loss to the sharpshooting Los Angeles Clippers.
And because of that, the Thunder finds itself in a sudden rut coming out of the All-Star break, losers of two straight for only the fourth time this season.
Both of the defeats came at home. And both came because the opposing team shot above 50 percent, a clip the Thunder only allowed to happen three times in 55 pre-All Star break games.
“We are a very good defensive team,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “But we didn’t play like that tonight.”
The Clippers scored at least 26 points in every quarter. They had 44 in the second quarter alone. All five of their starters had at least 18 points.
Some of it was a matter of difficult shot-making, particularly from Jamal Crawford. The Clippers’ talented two-guard had 36 points on a variety of contested jumpers and off-balance floaters.
“When Jamal Crawford is coming across half court shooting it with confidence,” Kevin Durant said, “you are going to see the ball go in the rim.”
But a bulk of the Clippers production came on defensive breakdowns from OKC. DeAndre Jordan had 18 points without missing a shot, consistently finding easy looks in transition.
And Matt Barnes, who was averaging 7.5 per game coming in, had 24 points in 32 minutes. He hit six of his 10 3-pointers, most of the wide-open variety.
“All of us have to sacrifice our body a little bit more,” Thabo Sefolosha said. “Keep them in front of us and run back.”
Naturally, some of the blame might fall to Russell Westbrook. The Thunder was 15-2 in its last 17 games before the All-Star break. OKC is 0-2 since his return, with his shot (7-of-25 combined in two games) looking a bit rusty.
But defense was clearly the problem on Sunday.
And in Brooks’ opinion, Westbrook was one of the few who actually defended in the loss to LA.
“He takes the challenge of guarding players, and that’s what we need,” Brooks said. “We need to find a team full of guys to get back to doing that.”
At 43-14, the Thunder remains comfortably atop the Western Conference. And with four straight home games coming up against teams with a combined record of 95-129 — Cleveland, Memphis, Charlotte and Philadelphia — a get-well stretch is on the horizon.
“Every team goes through a stretch (like this) throughout the season,” Durant said of OKC’s recent struggles. “Every game is not going to be great. If we let you guys come in and beat us up all the time, talk negative to us, we’re going to think that way. So we got to keep our heads up, keep getting better.”
That needs to start on the defensive end.