Kevin Durant didn't have his "A" game Wednesday night in Los Angeles. But for the first time in a long time, he had all of his teammates.
For just the second time in 51 games, the Thunder had its full starting lineup. And Oklahoma City needed every last man.
"It's been so long, we knew that this day would come," Brooks told reporters postgame. "We knew everbody would be together and we would go into the end of the season getting healthy, and we are."
The only unhealthy part of this game was the potential heart attacks caused by the final minutes. But it wasn't always close.
The game was knotted at 19-all with a little more than four minutes remaining in the first quarter; but from then on, the Thunder took control.
A pair of Westbrook jumpers helped Oklahoma City explode on a 10-0 run to take a 29-19 lead. OKC led 29-21 after the first.
The Thunder held a 31-25 lead with 10 minutes in the second, but the feel of this game was about to change. On OKC's next possession, Caron Butler found a cutting Steven Adams who proceeded to tomahawk dunk on Hedo Turkoglu's face. That was just the beginning.
Another Adams jam put the Thunder up 44-34 with 5:48 to play, but then the Clippers got in on the high-flying action.
A few minutes later, Matt Barnes found DeAndre Jordan on the baseline, who took the elevator to the top floor and threw down on Serge Ibaka's head. On the Clippers' ensuing possession, Chris Paul tossed a beautiful alley-oop and Jordan soared through the air Superman-style for another ridiculous dunk.
The Thunder led by as many as 15 in the half, but a strong finish by the Clippers cut the lead to just 59-54 at the break.
There were only a few dustups in the first half, an improvement on these two teams' previous meeting on Nov. 14 in Los Angeles. If you recall, Ibaka and Blake Griffin got tangled up and began to push and shove. Then, Barnes predictably injected himself into the dispute, escalating the incident further.
As a result of Barnes' antics, Ibaka balled and cocked his fist back, but never swung. Eventually the players were separated and the game continued, but not before the officials ejected both Ibaka and Barnes.
The Thunder extended its lead to 17 at 81-64 late in the third, but the Clippers didn't go down without a fight. Los Angeles got the game back into single digits with a 9-0 run, but Reggie Jackson's buzzer-beating 3-ball extended the Thunder's advantage back to 12 as the game headed to the fourth.
Ibaka knocked down a jumper with 7:07 left to put OKC up 94-79, and it appeared things were under control. Not so much.
Los Angeles took off on a 14-0 run in just 1:59 of game time to get within one at 94-93. Westbrook hit a jumper ended the Thunder drought, but the damage was done, and the Thunder's big lead was all but gone.
But even though Durant didn't have his best shooting night, he put the Thunder on his back in crunch time. With the shot clock winging down, Durant nailed a step-back 3-ball in Barnes' face to put the Thunder up five. After Darren Collison answered with a 3 of his own, Durant drew a foul and nailed a pair of free throws to put OKC back up double digits.
Paul got LA within 104-101 by splitting a pair of foul shots, but Westbrook sealed it with a free throw of his own.
The 107-101 win improved the Thunder to 57-21 and more importantly, increased OKC's lead over the Clippers to 2.5 games (3 in the loss column).
Durant finished with 27 points but shot just 8-26. Durant shot 1-7 from downtown, saving his only make for arguably the biggest moment of the game.
"KD didn't have one of his good offensive shooting games," Brooks explained. "That's a rarity. He seems to be, every night, (at) 50 percent. But those are nights that we always have to battle for each other and lock down on the defensive end."
Westbrook finished with a whopping 30 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and only one turnover. Ibaka added 15 points, seven boards and four blocks.
Blake Griffin finished with 30 points and 12 boards for Los Angeles.
The Clippers fell to 5-14 when scoring fewer than 100 points this season.
The Thunder hosts New Orleans on Friday night at Chesapeake Arena. It will be the first regular-season visit by the newly-renamed Pelicans.
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