LOS ANGELES — In a clash between Western Conference powers, the Oklahoma City Thunder dictated down the stretch for a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Guard Russell Westbrook scored 30 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out six assists, and the Thunder held on for a 107-101 decision over the Clippers on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant added 27 points, while forward Serge Ibaka chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocks.
Forward Blake Griffin had 30 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers, and point guard Chris Paul finished with 25 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
The win gives Oklahoma City (57-21) a 2 1/2-game lead over the Clippers for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoff race, and it evened the season series at two games apiece. Los Angeles (55-24) lost for the second time in three games.
Oklahoma City led 92-77 after Durant canned a jumper with 7:47 remaining in the game before the Clippers rallied. Paul’s 3-point basket and center DeAndre Jordan’s put-back dunk capped a 16-2 run as Los Angeles closed within 94-93 with about five minutes remaining. The Clippers, though, failed to grab a lead.
A 3-pointer by Durant gave the Thunder a 102-97 advantage, but guard Darren Collison answered with a trey to cut the lead to 102-100. Two free throws by Durant with 46.9 seconds left increased the deficit to four, but a Paul free throw sliced the margin to 104-101 with 38.6 seconds to go.
Westbrook hit one of two from the charity stripe to give Oklahoma City a four-point lead again.
Clippers guard J.J. Redick airballed a 3-point attempt before Los Angeles was forced to foul Westbrook with 10.2 seconds remaining. Westbrokhit both for the game’s final points.
After taking a 59-54 lead at intermission, Oklahoma City opened the third quarter with a 14-4 run for a 73-58 advantage after a dunk by Ibaka with 7:27 remaining. The Thunder pushed the lead to 81-64 before a 9-0 surge by the Clippers cut the margin to 81-73 after a bucket inside by Griffin with 1:17 left in the quarter. However, after a free throw from Oklahoma City center Steven Adams, guard Reggie Jackson ended the quarter with a 3-pointer to give the Thunder an 85-73 lead.
Collison scored 12 points, and Jordan finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
NOTES: Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said Thunder F Kevin Durant deserves the MVP. Rivers added that Clippers F Blake Griffin should finish second. “I think Durant’s had the best year,” Rivers said. “I still think LeBron (James) is the best player in the NBA, but I think Durant has had an MVP year. I don’t know who’s had a better year. I honestly think Blake would be right behind (Durant), but I don’t think I have a vote.” … Unless the Clippers and Thunder meet in the playoffs, Wednesday’s game could be the final one at Staples Center for Oklahoma City G Derek Fisher, who is expected to retire at season’s end. … Since Jan. 1, Los Angeles has the league’s second-best record (34-12). The San Antonio Spurs are No. 1 at 35-11.
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