Gordon, Thornton help Clippers overcome Durant, ThunderJan 24, 2009 - 7:41 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- With a handful of their most proficient scorers sidelined, the Los Angeles Clippers turned to a rookie to pick up the slack.
Rookie Eric Gordon offset Kevin Durant's career night with one of his own as the Clippers secured a 107-104 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
Gordon had a career-high 41 points and Al Thornton added a season-high 34 for the Los Angeles, who had lost 14 of 15 overall and eight of nine at Staples Center. Despite the win, they are still an NBA-worst 5-18 at home.
"Obviously, (Al and I) have got to carry the scoring load," Gordon said. "But if we play team ball, everything will be fine."
The shorthanded Clippers were again without four of their top players: Baron Davis (tailbone), Marcus Camby (left ankle), Chris Kaman (left arch) and Zach Randolph (left knee).
Los Angeles added another player to the injury report when starting point guard Mardy Collins left with a strained left calf early in the first quarter and did not return.
Gordon more than made up for the absences, eclipsing his previous high of 32 points set against the Dallas Mavericks on January 1. He equaled that mark on a free throw midway through the fourth, finishing with 14 points in the quarter.
"Eric is very explosive," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "He can get on rolls where he just strokes the ball. He stays in attack mode and gives great effort every night."
The seventh overall pick in the 2008 draft, Gordon was 13-of-28 from the floor and perfect in six attempts at the stripe, becoming the first rookie in franchise history to reach the 40-point plateau.
The previous record of 39 points by a first-year player was shared by Thornton, Terry Cummings and Tom Chambers.
"I try not to even think about (being a rookie)," Gordon said. "I just have to come to play every night and contribute."
Durant, the reigning Rookie of the Year, did his best to keep things close, pouring in a season-high 46 points while hitting a franchise record 24-of-26 free throws. He also pulled down a career-best 15 rebounds.
"I would have much rather had the win and scored 15 points," Durant said. "Guys around here respect me for that - I'm all about my teammates."
The Thunder were attempting to capture consecutive road victories for the first time this season.
Oklahoma City was coming off just its third victory away from home after defeating the Golden State Warriors, 122-121, on a buzzer-beater by Jeff Green on Wednesday.
"I am disappointed in the way we came out," Thunder interim Coach Scott Brooks said. "We have been playing much harder than that."
The Clippers denied the Thunder that chance with the help of Gordon.
The shooting guard nailed a 3-pointer from the wing to give Los Angeles a 96-88 advantage with 4:02 remaining.
Durant responded, scoring his team's next nine points to pull it within 102-99 with 1:40 left.
With the Clippers still leading by three, Gordon converted a layup with 48 seconds remaining to make it 107-102. Nick Collison tipped in a rebound on the other end of the court to get it back to three points.
After a miss by Los Angeles and intentional foul in the closing seconds, Collison missed both free throws. However, the rebound went to Durant, who heaved an air ball from behind the arc as time expired.
"That's a tough shot trying to make, running back and trying to turn around with only a couple of seconds left," Durant said. "I should have shot a better one. If I could go back, I'd re-shoot that one."
Fred Jones had 12 points and Ricky Davis dished out 11 assists as the Clippers beat the Thunder for the fourth straight time.
OKLAHOMA CITY 104
LA CLIPPERS 107 FINAL
Jan 24 1:04 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY 72
LA CLIPPERS 77 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 24 12:24 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY 53
LA CLIPPERS 50 HALFTIME
Jan 23 11:40 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 29
LA CLIPPERS 25 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 23 11:10 PM
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