NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, January 22nd
(All times Eastern)
Oklahoma City Thunder (32-9) at Los Angeles Clippers (32-10), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The NBA's two best teams square off in one of the most-
anticipated games of the season Tuesday night when the Los Angeles Clippers
welcome the reigning Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder to the
The San Antonio Spurs have one more win than these two, but the Thunder and
Clippers own the best winning percentages in the league.
This is the second meeting of the season between the Thunder and Clippers.
Oklahoma City won a 117-111 overtime thriller at home on Nov. 21. The two
squads play once more on March 3 in L.A.
The Thunder are on game three of a six-game western road trip. Their six-game
winning streak was stopped Sunday night in Denver when Oklahoma City lost a
heartbreaker, 121-118, in overtime.
The Thunder went on a 13-2 run just to force overtime, then Kevin Durant
missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer in the extra session.
Durant was brilliant once again. He finished with 37 points, eight assists and
seven rebounds, while going 20-for-21 from the free-throw line. He went a
perfect 21-for-21 from the charity stripe Friday night in another overtime
victory in Dallas.
But Durant, a West starter in the All-Star game, shot just 7-for-20 from the
"When I miss, sometimes it is defense, most of the time it is me," Durant
said. "I just need to focus a little better on my shots and they will start
Russell Westbrook was equally spectacular against the Nuggets. He netted 36
points, handed out nine assists and grabbed eight rebounds in just over 48
minutes of action. Westbrook buried a 3-pointer with 23 seconds left in
regulation to send the game to overtime.
"He willed us back to tie the game up," Durant said. "He hit a big shot. He
was getting to the rim, getting fouls called on him, putting pressure on the
defense. He played well for us. He played his heart out."
The Thunder are 13-6 outside of OKC.
The Clippers are coming off a 106-99 setback Monday evening to the Golden
State Warriors. That loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Clippers,
who are 7-4 in January.
Chris Paul, like Durant, a starter in next month's All-Star game, played in
his second game since coming back from a bruised knee cap and struggled. He
only managed a season-low four points, but dished out nine assists.
Blake Griffin had a brilliant all-around game with 26 points, 13 rebounds,
eighth assists, three steals and two blocks. According to the Clippers
website, LeBron James is the only player since 2001 to put up that kind of
all-around statistical performance.
"Blake was aggressive the whole game," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro
said. "We were trying to get (Stephen) Curry in foul trouble which we did and
David Lee. We couldn't convert on that stuff, but Blake set the tone for us
the whole game. He was aggressive. We went to him a lot. He produced. We just
weren't able to convert down the stretch."
The Clippers took a seven-point lead into the final quarter, but were
outscored by 14 in the final frame. Their defense wasn't there on Monday,
allowing the Warriors to shoot 52 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from
Los Angeles has won three of its last five against the Thunder and four
straight at home.
01/22 10:35:02 ET