The Clippers were able to blow out the Grizzlies in Memphis with Chris Paul on the bench. They outscored the Rockets and outfought the Timberwolves, all on the road, while Paul was unable to go. But Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers couldn't survive having their best player on the bench, especially with Oklahoma City making all the plays. Kevin Durant torched the Clipper defense for 32 points, hitting 5 of 6 three-point shots, keeping the Thunder atop the Western Conference with a 109-97 win. "Obviously we didn't have our general out there, but that's no excuse," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. With the loss, the Clippers have fallen into third in the Western Conference behind the Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. Blake Griffin was just as good as Durant, scoring 31 points to go with 11 rebounds and five assists, but he overshot Jamal Crawford on a fast break that would have cut the Thunder lead to six inside of a minute. The Clippers led for most of the first quarter and trailed by only four at halftime before Durant took over, scoring 24-point second-half points. The Clippers have now lost two games in a row. Oklahoma City opened the game up in the third quarter, scorching the nets for 12-of-16 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 from 3-point range. Eric Bledsoe struggled offensively in Paul's place, hitting only 5 of 16 shots on his way to 12 points. He also had four assists and one turnover in 35 minutes. "He missed some shots," Del Negro said. The Clippers hit half their shots in the third quarter, but the Thunder still outscored the Clippers 33-23. Oklahoma City hit 15 of 27 3-pointers overall. "They (the Thunder) deserved to win it," Del Negro said. "They executed better than us."
Clippers fall to Oklahoma City
Orange County Register | Jan 23