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Thunder, Clippers have shot at West's No. 1 seed

With San Antonio's Tony Parker sidelined, OKC and LA will play on Sunday knowing they can lay claim to homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs with a strong run.
By John Rohde Published: March 2, 2013
/articleid/3760793/1/pictures/1967807">Photo - L.A. CLIPPERS: Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, left, and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, of Congo, battle for a rebound during the second half of their NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, in Los Angeles. The Thunder won 109-97.  (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)  ORG XMIT: LAS113
L.A. CLIPPERS: Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, left, and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, of Congo, battle for a rebound during the second half of their NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, in Los Angeles. The Thunder won 109-97. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) ORG XMIT: LAS113

However, the Clippers' renowned “Lob City” has seemed more like a ghost town against the Thunder, which has allowed very few alley-oops.

“We try to prevent their strengths,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said. “We don't want to give them layups or lobs. A lot of teams in the league go into the game trying prevent that, and we've done a good job. They're one of the most athletic teams in the league, and we have to do it again.”

Everyone in a Thunder uniform agrees the highest priority is preventing the Clippers from getting easy transition points, where Paul and Griffin frequently strut their stuff.

“Getting good shots on our end and not having too many turnovers that allow them to get out and run,” OKC veteran reserve forward Nick Collison said when asked to list several keys to the game. “Try to get them in a half-court set; try to have everybody be in tune with what's going on; have our help be there early, because if you're late, they'll just take off; try to plug up all the holes.”

Perhaps the best way to categorize the Thunder's level of confidence against the Clippers is as “cautiously optimistic.”

“A lot of it has to do with us doing a good job getting back and eliminating easy transition points,” Brooks said. “It sounds so simple, but it's hard to do against that team. They've got so many guys who fly down the court. They've got 3-point shooters and they've got Chris Paul playing the way he's playing.”


Thunder at Clippers

When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles

TV: KOCO-5 (Cox 8/HD 705, DirecTV 5, Dish 5, U-Verse 5/HD 1005)

Radio: WWLS-FM 98.1, WWLS-AM 640

Three things to know

* This will be the third and final meeting between the teams. OKC leads the series 2-0 this season.

* Clippers have won four straight, eight of their last nine and lead the Pacific Division by nine games.

* When the Clippers beat the Cavaliers 105-89 on Friday, it was their first win in Cleveland since 2002.

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