(Sports Network) - Two of the NBA's best hook up Sunday afternoon at the
Staples Center when the Los Angeles Clippers welcome the Oklahoma City
These teams lead their respective divisions by many games and the Thunder have
the league's third-best record while the Clippers own the fourth-best. The
Clips are only a half-game behind the Thunder for the second-best record in
the Western Conference behind the San Antonio Spurs.
The Clippers are the hotter of the two teams heading into Sunday's crucial
matchup. They've won four in a row and eight of their last nine with the only
blip on the radar coming in an embarrassing home loss to those Spurs.
They just swept a mini, two-game road trip, beating the very tough Indiana
Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Against the Cavs, the Clippers took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter
and hammered the home team by nine in the final frame to win, 105-89. Chris
Paul scored 11 points, but handed 15 assists after a night when he took over
the fourth quarter to beat the Pacers.
"Tonight, we really got the shots we wanted," said Paul, who had his No. 3
jersey retired at his alma mater, Wake Forrest on Saturday. "Much like
Indiana, we missed a lot of easy shots. Hopefully, we get back home on Sunday,
we start knocking those down."
Six Clippers scored in double figures against Cleveland and the game-high
scorer was Jamal Crawford. L.A.'s always stout bench contributed 50 points,
including 10 from Lamar Odom.
The Thunder had a three-game winning streak halted Friday night in Denver. The
Nuggets pulled out a 105-103 victory. Ty Lawson of the Nuggets made a buzzer-
beating jumper for the victory.
The Thunder trailed by 10 at the start of the final quarter, but tied things
up late. Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 38 points, Kevin Durant added 25
points and 14 rebounds and Serge Ibaka chipped in 17.
"Knowing the team like I know it, we're not going to give up," head coach
Scott Brooks said. "We always seem to somehow, someway, fight back and give
ourselves a chance to win. We did that tonight. They played a little bit
better. They made one more play than us. That's just the way it is. We have to
figure it out going into the next game and play a little bit better."
Friday was not a good night for the Thunder's bench. They were outscored by
Denver's second unit, 71-11. The Nuggets' reserves are third in the NBA in
scoring and the Clippers share the lead with the Dallas Mavericks. OKC is
22nd, so they may seem a similar, but not quite so large disparity on Sunday.
The Thunder have both of this season's contests.
First, they toppled the Clippers, 117-111 in overtime on Nov. 21 in Oklahoma
City. The Thunder then knocked off the Clips in their own building by 12 on
The Thunder's victory in L.A. over the Clippers this season halted a four-game
road losing streak in this series.
The Sports Network