NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, April 9th (All times Eastern)
Oklahoma City Thunder (56-21) at Los Angeles Clippers (55-23), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - A huge matchup of Western Conference titans takes place Wednesday night at Staples Center where the Los Angeles Clippers host the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Both teams have won their respective divisions and are headed to the playoffs. Oklahoma City is just 1 1/2 games ahead of the Clippers for second in the Western Conference.
"We go into every game and our whole message is to worry about ourselves and it's about and how we execute and how we compete," LA All-Star forward Blake Griffin said. "At this point, even with it being kind of tight in the Western Conference, like the playoff race and all that everybody kind of knows where they'll be at and everybody kind of knows who they are. I think we know who we are. We just want to really sharpen the things we do."
The Clippers have been resting since Sunday's 120-97 drubbing of fellow Staples Center tenants, the Lakers.
Chris Paul and Griffin netted 23 points apiece as the Clippers clinched homecourt advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
Six Clippers reached double figures in this one, with J.J. Redick scoring 15 in his first start since returning to the court. The sharpshooter from Duke missed 25 games while dealing with a bulging disc in his back.
"Everyday I'm getting better and better," Redick said. "I'm feeling better physically and mentally. I'm getting my rhythm back."
Darren Collison scored 14 points in a reserve role while DeAndre Jordan added 11 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Hedo Turkoglu chipped in 10 points in under 10 minutes.
The Thunder snapped a losing streak last time out, but the more noteworthy streak involving Oklahoma City came to an end.
Kevin Durant's historic scoring run was halted but his Thunder easily took care of the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, 107-92, to snap a two-game skid.
Durant finished with 23 points as his run of scoring at least 25 points ended at 41 games. He passed Michael Jordan last time out for the most such games in the modern era.
"I was getting so many texts after every game. I'm glad that's over with and we can just focus on the team," Durant said.
The MVP candidate has still scored 20 or more points in 50 consecutive games.
Without Russell Westbrook (rest), Caron Butler also scored 23 points, followed by 19 from Serge Ibaka, 13 from Reggie Jackson and 10 out of Jeremy Lamb.
Thabo Sefolosha returned from a calf injury which cost him the whole month of March. He played a little over 15 minutes and scored three points.
"When you don't travel with the team and you stay home and have to watch them on TV, it's tough," Sefolosha said. "So just being back out there and playing, that's what we live for, just being able to be on the court playing NBA basketball. It was great."
After Wednesday, the Thunder have two games remaining with the New Orleans Pelicans, a tough road contest against the Indiana Pacers and a date with Detroit in the season finale in OKC.
The Clippers are in the midst of a five-game homestand and will welcome the Sacramento Kings and Denver Nuggets on their residency. They close the regular season in Portland.
The Clippers have taken two of three this season versus the Thunder and five of their last seven as the host in this series.
04/09 10:20:56 ET