Clippers vs. Thunder: Video highlights and game recap
Clippers 112, Thunder 100 (final)
The Clippers have racked up a few marquee wins in this young NBA season (against Miami, the Lakers, Dallas and Denver) to prove they're not the Clippers of yesteryear, that they are indeed legit contenders.
And Monday, they earned the biggest notch in their belt yet.
Against the Oklahoma City Thunder, which came into the game with an NBA-best record of 16-3, the Clippers earned a dominating 112-100 win before a sell-out and at times deafening crowd of 19,404.
The Clippers improved to 12-6 as they head into a stretch in which eight of their next 10 games are on the road, starting at Utah on Wednesday.
What can people take away from this game? This dunk by Blake Griffin against the team from his hometown that you will see replayed a trillion times (a conservative estimate) the rest of this season
But also that the Clippers have the offensive firepower to stay with the league's best teams, especially they get as balanced an effort as they did against the Thunder.
Six Clippers players scored in double figures: Chris Paul had 26 (and 14 assists); Caron Butler and Griffin had 22 apiece; Chauncey Billups had 13, Mo Williams 12 and DeAndre Jordan finished with 11 plus 11 rebounds.
The Clippers shot an impressive 56% and hit 13 of 25 three-point shots.
The Thunder got huge nights from Kevin Durant (36 points) and Russell Westbrook (31 points), but little from anyone else. No other Thunder player scored more than seven points.
Clippers 90, Thunder 70 (end of the third quarter)
We begin with the NBA's dunk of the season and one that might not be topped for many seasons to come.
Paul then found Griffin and fed him a nice two-handed bounce pass.
Griffin caught it and immediately took off several feet from the basket.
Thunder center/enforcer Kendrick Perkins jumped right into him, a mid-air collision with some oomph.
But Griffin would not be stopped.
And the Clippers' muscle-bound star threw down a rim-rattling, earth-shaking, can-you-believe-what-you-just-saw, right-handed slam dunk that rivaled his epic dunk against Timofey Mozgov last season.
Because this is 2012 and the Internet is all kinds of awesome, here is a video of the slam.
For good measure, Griffin, who has 16 points and six rebounds, made the ensuing free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play.
As for the rest of the quarter, the Clippers continued to shoot the lights out.
They're shooting 57.8% from the field in the game and have made 11 of 19 three-point shots.
And as for the Thunder, it continues to be a two-man show of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Durant has 32 points, Westbrook has 27 and no other Thunder player has more than four points.
Clippers 64, Thunder 46 (halftime)
The Clippers were threatening to run the Thunder out of the building, city, state and time zone.
But Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook weren't going to let that happen.
They combined for 37 of the Thunder's 46 first-half points, with Durant scoring 20 and Westbrook adding 17.
Almost single-handidly, they had brought their team back from an 18-point deficit to make it a six-point game with less than two minutes left before the intermission.
Then the Clippers started raining threes.
Mo Williams hit one with 1:16 left in the second quarter.
Then Caron Butler hit one with 56.6 seconds left.
Then Williams hit another with 33.3 seconds left.
Then Chauncey Billups added one with 25 seconds left, sending the crowd into a hysteric frenzy.
Just like that, the Clippers -- who had made 10 of 14 shots from three-point range -- again found themselves ahead by 18 points.
Unlike the Thunder, the Clippers have been a balanced-scoring team throughout the first half.
Butler has a team-high 16 points. Chris Paul has 11 points and eight assists. Billups and DeAndre Jordan have nine points each. And Blake Griffin has a quiet seven points.
Also, Thunder center Kendrick Perkins was tagged with a technical foul midway through the quarter for arguing with referees after Westbrook appeared to be fouled on a missed dunk attempt.
It was Perkins' league-leading eighth technical of the season.
A couple of possessions later, Westbrook threw a dunk down with two hands in traffic.
Westbrook, it should be noted, is trying to dunk the ball as hard as he can anytime he's anywhere even close to the rim. It's rare that you see such a gameplan from a point guard, but that's his deal.
Clippers 36, Thunder 25 (end of first quarter)
Right off the bat: Staples Center is quite loud on this very fine Monday evening.
As in, close-game, final-seconds-in-the-fourth-quarter, the-building-is-quaking type of loud.
And the crowd was giving standing ovations on made Clippers baskets just a few minutes into it, especially when they took a 23-13 lead with 4 minutes 5 seconds left in the quarter.
Because these teams are both loaded with ultra-young, ultra-athletic, ultra-competitive talent, this game has at times looked like a high-level pickup game at park playground.
That's not to say it has been all highlights. Both teams are settling in, trying to establish a tempo.
But if that tempo is more of what they offered in the first quarter, this will be a high-scoring and up-tempo game.
The Clippers are shooting 62.5% and the Thunder are at 47.6%.
Caron Butler got the Clippers off to a hot start by making three of four three-point shots.
Chris Paul pitched in with 11 points and five assists and DeAndre Jordan had seven points (six of which came on emphatic dunks) and six rebounds.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 21 of the Thunder's 25 first-quarter points.
Paul has his hands full with Westbrook, who's playing aggressively and has 10 points. Durant hit five of his first seven shots and has 11 points.
Blake Griffin hasn't looked great against the inside duo of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. He had just two points in the fist quarter.
-- Baxter Holmes
Photo: Clippers guard Mo Williams comes away with the ball during a scramble against Thunder forward Kevin Durant in the first half Monday night at Staples Center. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times