LOS ANGELES — Forward Blake Griffin scored 23 points, including two crucial free throws down the stretch, and point guard Chris Paul added 22 to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 93-90 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night at Staples Center.
Oklahoma City played much of the contest without guard Russell Westbrook, who injured his right hand in the second quarter. Westbrook also got irritated with a fan en route to the locker room, exchanging a few heated words before security intervened.
Westbrook returned to the bench for the second half with his hand wrapped in ice, but did not play. He finished with two points, four assists and three turnovers in nine minutes. Oklahoma City already was without injured MVP forward Kevin Durant.
Thunder forward Perry Jones posted a career-best 32 points, and forward Serge Ibaka finished with 17 points.
The Clippers (1-0) captured the first meeting between the two clubs since the Thunder beat them in six games in the Western Conference semifinals in May. Oklahoma City (0-2) dropped its second contest in as many nights, with Thursday’s setback coming on the heels of a 106-89 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Despite Westbrook’s absence, the Thunder stayed close. Guard Sebastian Telfair’s 3-pointer pulled Oklahoma City within 89-88 with 1:44 remaining. Clippers guard J.J. Redick missed 3-point shots on consecutive possessions.
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan stripped Thunder center Steven Adams of the ball with about 20 seconds left. However, Paul missed two free throws with 13.8 seconds remaining, giving Oklahoma City another opportunity.
Telfair’s runner was blocked by Jordan with about seven seconds left. Griffin’s two free throws with 5.8 seconds remaining were the difference.
Thunder forward Nick Collison hit a two foul shots with 4.1 seconds left to cut the deficit to one, but Redick canned two more for the Clippers with 2.8 seconds left for the final points.
Ibaka’s 3-point try before the horn was short.
The Clippers managed a 46-41 lead at halftime, outscoring the Thunder 24-13 in the second quarter and limiting them to 27.8 percent shooting.
NOTES: The Clippers open the season by playing four games in five days. They meet the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday before facing the Sacramento Kings on Sunday and the Utah Jazz on Monday. … Thunder F Kevin Durant (fractured right foot), G Reggie Jackson (right ankle sprain), F Grant Jerrett (ankle surgery), F Jeremy Lamb (lower back sprain), F Mitch McGary (left foot fracture) and G Anthony Morrow (left MCL sprain) did not play. … Clippers F Glen Davis missed the game with a strained right groin. Coach Doc Rivers said Davis performed running drills Wednesday and could return in a week. … The Thunder hosts the Denver Nuggets in their home opener Saturday.
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