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Durant lifts Thunder over Clippers

Jan 23, 2013 - 7:43 AM Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Kevin Durant scored 13 of his game-high 32 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 109-97 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday in a battle of the NBA's elite.

Durant was seemingly unconscious in the final frame, converting 5-of-6 field goal attempts and 3-of-3 from behind the arc over the final 12 minutes. The reigning three-time scoring champion also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out seven assists for the Thunder, who improved to an NBA-best 33-9 with the win.

"I couldn't find my shot early on. They did a good job defensively," Durant said. "In the second half I was aggressive and the shots were falling. We were getting guys open for threes."

Russell Westbrook added 26 points to go with six assists and Serge Ibaka scored 17 points and pulled down nine boards in the triumph.

"We did a good job of knocking down shots, they're a good team. It was big win for us," Westbrook said.

Blake Griffin notched a double-double with 31 points and 11 rebounds, Jamal Crawford scored 14 points and Eric Bledsoe added 12 points for the Clippers, who played without All-Star point guard Chris Paul for the fourth time in six games.

Paul, who injured his right knee at the end of Los Angeles' 104-101 loss to the Magic on Jan. 12, played in the team's last two games. Paul scored 22 points and dished out 11 assists in Saturday's win over Washington, but struggled in Monday's setback to Golden State, scoring just four points on 1- of-7 shooting.

With the loss, the Clippers (32-11) fall a 1/2 game behind the San Antonio Spurs (33-11) in the Western Conference standings.

Oklahoma City used an 18-11 surge to take control of the game in third quarter. Durant and Thabo Sefolosha each buried a pair of treys on the run to give the Thunder a 72-59 lead with 4:43 left in the quarter.

Oklahoma City outscored the Clippers, 10-9, the rest of the way to take an 82-68 lead into the final stanza.

Los Angeles scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter and were able to shave the lead to 90-82 after Matt Barnes drained a 3-ball from the corner.

Durant, though, led an 11-3 surge to take a 101-85 lead with 4:44 remaining.

He got things started with a pair of treys before Ibaka canned a triple from the left corner. Durant then threw down a rim-rattling slam that seemed to be the final nail in the Clippers' coffin.

Durant took the ball at the top of the key, took one dribble to his left before using a crossover to blow by Barnes. Durant then elevated from just inside the free thrown line and hammered home a thunderous tomahawk jam.

The Clippers were able to pull within 105-97 following a pair of Griffin free throws with 1 1/2 minutes left, but the Thunder scored the final four points of the game to lock up their seventh win in eight tries.

"I didn't think we had a very decent game on the defensive side. Durant's threes hurt us,"said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. "They controlled the game in the second half. Overall we just weren't sharp enough at both ends."

The game was tied 22-22 after the first quarter and the Thunder took a 49-45 lead into the break.

Game Notes

Durant has scored at least 30 points in six of his last seven games, and has averaged 40.3 points per game in his last three ... Oklahoma City shot 52.6 percent (41-for-78) from the field and went 15-for-27 from behind the arc ... Kevin Martin scored 13 points off the bench for the Thunder ... Earlier on Tuesday, the Clippers agreed to a 10-year extension of their Staples Center lease. Under the new agreement, which becomes effective at the end of the current 2012-13 season, the Clippers will continue to call the venue their home through June, 2024. The Clippers played their first regular-season game at Staples Center on Nov. 2, 1999 against the Seattle SuperSonics.