Thunder beat Clippers 109-97 to extend West lead

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 23, 2013 at 1:26 am •  Published: January 23, 2013

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Coming off a loss two nights earlier in Denver, the Oklahoma City Thunder were more interested in bouncing back with a win than making any statements against the Clippers.

Kevin Durant scored 32 points, Russell Westbrook added 26 and the Thunder won 109-97 on Tuesday night in a matchup of teams with the two best records in the NBA.

"We've got 82 games and we want to play well every night," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "We don't put more emphasis on any one game. We know the Clippers are one of the best teams, and with Chris Paul in or out, they've still got a great team."

Serge Ibaka added 17 points before fouling out late while helping the Thunder improve to a league-best 33-9 and expand their lead in the Western Conference standings to one game over the Clippers, who were without All-Star Paul. They fell to 32-11.

"They were missing Chris Paul, which is a huge piece, but they were still good in his absence," Durant said. "We wanted to come in here and get a good road win."

Blake Griffin had 31 points and 11 rebounds, and Jamal Crawford added 14 points off the bench. Eric Bledsoe scored 12 points starting in place of Paul, who missed his fourth game because of a bruised right kneecap. He missed three road wins last week, then played the next two games but it was obvious Paul wasn't himself so he was held out Tuesday.

After the game, coach Vinny Del Negro said, "Chris is going to be out. Hopefully, we get him back soon. It's a day-to-day thing."

The Clippers play 10 of their next 11 on the road.

"Chris is the orchestrator. He'll organize everything out there," Crawford said. "There's no way to replace him, but collectively we'll get it together."

The Clippers had won four straight at home against the Thunder, and they led much of the first quarter before giving up the lead for good early in the second.

"They're a good team at home, and right now we're two of the best teams in the NBA," Westbrook said. "It was a big win for us. We made some big shots and guys made the right plays."

Los Angeles made a run to start the fourth, with Grant Hill and Crawford combining to score seven in a row and close to 82-75. That was as close as the Clippers came in losing their second straight.

"They just hit shots down the stretch," Griffin said. "We tried to fight back, but we put ourselves in too big of a hole. They have the best record in the NBA for a reason. Every game for us we know we're going to get a team's best. We're not going to hang our heads."

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