The Norman Transcript

National Sports

March 4, 2013

Powering through

LOS ANGELES — With Oklahoma City trying to hold off another marquee team, Russell Westbrook took charge — in the huddle. He urged his Thunder teammates to keep their composure, set screens and play defense.

They listened and turned away a late rally by the Los Angeles Clippers to win 108-104 on Sunday in a matchup of Western Conference contenders.

“It was a good road win for us in a playoff-type atmosphere,” said Westbrook, who had 29 points and 10 assists. “We did a good job of keeping their crowd out of the game.”

Kevin Durant poured in 35 points and Serge Ibaka had 16 as Oklahoma City ended a three-game road skid, bouncing back less than 48 hours after losing at Denver. They also completed a season sweep of the Clippers, who are chasing the Thunder and NBA-best San Antonio in the West.

“We weren’t in a panic mode,” Westbrook said. “We just wanted to win.”

Chris Paul scored 26 points and Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford added 20 points apiece for the Clippers, whose four-game winning streak ended in their third loss to the Thunder this season. Paul made all nine of his free throws to help his team go 19 for 22 from the line.

“We came up short, and it seemed like every time something happened, we just couldn’t get over the hump,” Paul said. “They got the timely calls when they needed them, but they played a pretty good game.”

The referees were busy for much of the day, with the Clippers called for 26 fouls to the Thunder’s 22 in a physical game that featured double technicals on Caron Butler and Kendrick Perkins for their verbal exchange and Ibaka’s flagrant-1 foul on Griffin.

“It’s always going to be a tough, chippy game any time we play them because we’re both pretty physical teams with physical bigs, so there’s a lot of pushing and all that down low,” Griffin said. “I guess it’s tough to officiate and know what to call and what not to, but they seemed to know today what to call.”

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