OKLAHOMA CITY -- These are the kind of games the Los Angeles Clippers need to start winning to be considered legitimate contenders in the NBA.
While beating the top four teams in the league doesn’t necessarily mean anything when the playoffs roll around, failing to beat any of them on the road would have been a burden for them.
It is a burden no longer after the Clippers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 125-117 on Sunday for their first road win against a top-four team and easily their biggest win of the season.
How it happened: The Clippers took a 15-point lead in the third quarter but the Thunder cut it down to six with an 11-4 run before the end of the quarter. They then tied it up in the fourth before Kevin Durant gave them the lead with a 3-pointer with less than three minutes left in the game. Durant, however, missed back-to-back free throws and Jamal Crawford answered with a 3-pointer to give the Clippers a four-point lead, and they never looked back
What it means: The Clippers have finally defeated a top-four team on the road after losing previously at Miami, Indiana, Oklahoma City and San Antonio. It also means they avoided losing three games in a row for the first time this season. They are one of five teams that have not lost three straight.
Hits: It was a big game for the Clippers’ starters as each one scored at least 18 points. Crawford had 36 points and five 3-pointers. Chris Paul nearly had a triple-double with 18 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. Matt Barnes had 24 points and six 3-pointers. Blake Griffin had 20 points and DeAndre Jordan had 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Misses: The Clippers once again struggled on offense with the four players who played off the bench, combining for just nine points, but Darren Collison played well with seven points, four rebounds and two assists.
Stat of the game: The Clippers shot well against the Thunder, hitting 51.9 percent from the field and 43.3 from beyond the arc, as Barnes and Crawford combined for 11 3-pointers.
Up next: The Clippers travel to New Orleans after Sunday's game to play the Pelicans on Monday. The Clippers defeated the Pelicans 108-95 in their first meeting of the season in Los Angeles. Paul and Griffin were just in New Orleans last week for the NBA All-Star Game.