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January 23, 2013

Durant scores 32 as Thunder win West showdown with Clippers

LOS ANGELES — Kevin Durant scored 32 points, Russell Westbrook added 26 and the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 109-97 on Tuesday night in a matchup of teams with the two best records in the NBA.

Serge Ibaka added 17 points before fouling out late while helping the Thunder improve to a league-leading 33-9 and expand their lead in the Western Conference standings to 1½ games over the Clippers, who were without All-Star Chris Paul and fell to 32-11.

Blake Griffin had 31 points and 11 rebounds, and Jamal Crawford added 14 points off the bench. Eric Bledsoe scored 12 points starting in place of Paul, who missed his fourth game because of a bruised right kneecap. He missed three road wins last week, then played the next two games but it was obvious Paul wasn't himself so he was held out Tuesday.

The Clippers had won four straight at home against the Thunder, and they led much of the first quarter before giving up the lead for good early in the second.

Los Angeles made a run to start the fourth, with Grant Hill and Crawford combining to score seven in a row and close to 82-75. That was as close as the Clippers came in losing their second straight.

Durant keyed a 3-point barrage over the next nearly 4 minutes, making three of them himself while Westbrook added one and Ibaka had another to extend the Thunder's lead to 99-82 — their largest of the game. Durant scored on a driving dunk to make it 101-85, then punctuated it by punching his right arm in the air.

The Clippers cut their deficit to 105-97. After Westbrook missed, Griffin raced down court and proceeded to throw the ball into the seats. He bent over with his head in his hands.

Having beaten the Clippers in overtime in November, the Thunder won the season series, with one game remaining on Jan. 22.

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