Ex-Sonic Kevin Durant scored 32 points as Oklahoma City defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 109-97 in a matchup of teams with the two best records in the league.
LOS ANGELES — Kevin Durant scored 32 points, Russell Westbrook added 26 and the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 109-97 Tuesday night in a matchup of teams with the two best records in the league.
Serge Ibaka added 17 points before fouling out late while helping the Thunder improve to a league-leading 33-9 and expand its lead in the Western Conference standings to 1 ½ games over the Clippers, who were without All-Star guard Chris Paul and fell to 32-11.
Blake Griffin had 31 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Clippers. Jamal Crawford, a graduate of Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, added 14 points off the bench.
Eric Bledsoe scored 12 points on 5-for-16 shooting starting in place of Paul, who missed his fourth game because of a bruised right kneecap. Paul missed three road victories last week, then played the next two games but it was obvious he wasn’t himself so he was held out Tuesday.
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Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said there is no timetable for Paul’s return.
“We have to look at the big picture,” he said. “We’ve got to kind of protect Chris as well, just to kind of give him a little bit of rest.”
The Clippers had won four straight at home against the Thunder.
Los Angeles made a run to start the fourth quarter, with Grant Hill and Crawford combining to score seven points in a row and close to 82-75.
Ex-Sonic Durant then keyed a three-point barrage, making three of them himself, while Westbrook added one and Ibaka had another to extend the Thunder’s lead to 99-82 — its largest of the game.
Meanwhile, it was announced the Clippers agreed to a 10-year extension of their lease at Staples Center that will keep them as arena tenants through June 2024.
• Guard Kyrie Irving scored 15 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter, including several key late baskets, to lead the host Cleveland Cavaliers to a 95-90 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Boston has lost four in a row.
Irving seems to be making a case for a berth in the All-Star Game on Feb. 17 in Houston.
“If you look at the point guards in the Eastern Conference, name one that’s having a better season,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. “I’ll wait.”
• Earlier in the day, the Memphis Grizzlies traded Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future first-round draft pick to Cleveland for Jon Leuer.
• Ersan Ilyasova collected 27 points and 16 rebounds to lead host Milwaukee to a 110-102 victory over Philadelphia.
Evan Turner scored 23 points for the 76ers and Spencer Hawes, a former Washington Huskies and Seattle Prep player, had 21 points and 12 rebounds.
It was Hawes’ fifth double-double of the season.
• Jason Maxiell, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe combined for 38 points and 28 rebounds, and the Detroit Pistons pulled away to beat the visiting Orlando Magic 105-90.