Thunder beat Clippers in clash of NBA leaders
LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Oklahoma City Thunder stamped itself as the team to beat this season by winning 109-97 at their nearest NBA rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, Detroit pulled away to beat undersized Orlando, Milwaukee’s improvement under its new coach continued with a win over Philadelphia and Cleveland won back-to-back home games for the first time this season by defeating Boston.
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant scored 32 points and Russell Westbrook added 26 for the Thunder, who improved to a league-leading 33-9 and expanded their lead in the Western Conference to 1-1/2 games over the Clippers.
Los Angeles was without All-Star Chris Paul and even Blake Griffin’s 31 points and 11 rebounds were not enough for the hosts.
The Clippers had won four straight at home against the Thunder, and they led much of the first quarter before giving up the lead for good early in the second.
The Detroit Pistons won 105-90 over the Orlando Magic, thanks chiefly to the trio of Jason Maxiell, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, who combined for 38 points and 28 rebounds.
The Pistons also finished with a 16-6 edge in offensive rebounds against the Magic, who had their size issues magnified when Glen Davis was benched for much of the second half after taking 15 first-half shots and grabbing just three rebounds.
JJ Redick was Orlando’s biggest threat, scoring 26 points on 9-for-10 shooting – including 5 for 6 on 3-pointers.
The Milwaukee Bucks have six of eight since Jim Boylan replaced Scott Skiles as coach, bolstering that record with a 110-102 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Ersan Ilyasova had 27 points and 16 rebounds and Brandon Jennings scored 25 points for the Bucks, who had lost four straight before parting with Skiles.
Philadelphia lost its fifth straight on the road.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were 95-90 winners over the Boston Celtics, with Kyrie Irving scoring 15 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter, including several key late baskets.
Irving scored 11 points in the final 2:33 on four layups and three free throws as the Cavaliers sent Boston to its season-worst fourth straight loss. Irving shot 16 for 24 – setting a career high for field goals made – and fell one point short of his career-best scoring total.
Tristan Thompson added 21 points for the Cavaliers while Rajon Rondo led Boston with 17 points.