Coming into Wednesday night's game against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Oklahoma City Thunder had defeated exactly one opponent with a winning record this season. On the other side, the Clippers had only beaten one team with a losing record out of their eight wins, and came to Chesapeake Energy Arena riding a league-best six-game winning streak.
Needless to say, the Thunder needed a defining win at this early stage of the 2012-13 season.
It took an extra five minutes, but the Thunder finally got that big win it had been looking for, downing the Clippers in overtime, 117-111, in a tough, sometimes ugly, game in front of a sellout crowd at The Peake.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored all 15 points for the Thunder in overtime, with Durant scoring nine, including six free throws in the final minute to put the game away.
Durant finished with 35 points on an off-shooting night. The lanky forward went just 7-for-19 from the field, but hit 19-of-21 free throws.
Westbrook wasn't any better from the field, shooting 8-for-20, but ended with 23 points and nine assists.
Kevin Martin had 20 off the bench for the Thunder, and Serge Ibaka had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Hasheem Thabeet also tied a career-high with 10 points off the bench.
The Clippers were led by Blake Griffin's 23 points, and Matt Barnes had 19 points starting in place of the injured Caron Butler. Jamal Crawford added 20 points off the bench.
L.A. star Chris Paul, hounded all night by Thabo Sefolosha, struggled to do much of anything, finishing with just nine points on 2-of-14 shooting. He also had nine assists.
OKC led almost the entire game, but the team's Achilles' heel, offensive rebounding and turnovers, almost cost the Thunder a win. OKC allowed 17 offensive rebounds, and turned the ball over 19 times, leading to 19 L.A. points.
The Thunder came out firing, with Sefolosha hitting a couple three-pointers and Ibaka rejecting several early Clippers shot attempts. Oklahoma had a 10-point lead on two occasions in the first quarter, the latter coming on a Nick Collison jumper that made the score 28-18.
The Clippers went on a 7-0 run, fueled mainly by a bench that came into the game averaging 42.2 points per game. After Los Angeles cut the score to 28-25, the Thunder responded with a quick 10-4 run, with Martin scoring six of the 10 points. Martin scored all 13 of his first half points in the quarter, helping the Thunder lead 59-49 at the break.
The third quarter was a bad display of basketball thanks to a combined 11 turnovers and both teams shooting less than 40 percent. The Thunder managed to maintain a 76-69 lead heading into the final period.
The Clippers continued to chip away at the lead in the fourth quarter, but the Thunder had an answer each time. After the Clippers cut the lead to 94-90, Durant stripped Griffin, and Perkins hit Martin with a perfect outlet pass that led to a dunk. However, L.A., particularly Barnes, would prove difficult to put down. With the Thunder up 100-95, Barnes hit a corner three-pointer to cut the deficit to two. After an Ibaka jump shot and two Paul free throws, Barnes drove hard to the basket past Perkins for a layup to tie the score at 102.
The Clippers had a chance to win it in regulation, but Paul's fadeaway jumper over Westbrook came up short.
The Thunder is off for Thanksgiving Thursday, and then hits the Northeast for two games against the Celtics and 76ers. The Thunder returns to OKC to take on Charlotte on Monday night.