LOS ANGELES — The Oklahoma City Thunder took the court hours after the death of part-owner Aubrey McClendon and squandered a 22-point lead in a 103-98 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
Chris Paul had 21 points and 13 assists for Los Angeles and DeAndre Jordan had 20 points and 18 rebounds. The Clippers ended the game with a stunning 26-5 run after trailing by 16 points with 7:30 left. The Thunder had only one field goal during that stretch, a 17-foot jumper by Durant.
It was the largest comeback win of the season for the Clippers, who reached the 40-win mark for the fifth year in a row and ninth time since the club relocated from San Diego to Los Angeles in 1984.
Kevin Durant scored 30 points and Russell Westbrook had 24 points and 12 assists for Oklahoma City in the first of three meetings this month between the teams with the second and fourth-best records in the Western Conference.
McClendon, 56, was killed slamming his sport utility vehicle into a concrete bridge embankment in Oklahoma City shortly after 9 a.m. local time.
The incident occurred one day after he was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma while he was still CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp.
In a statement released Tuesday after the indictment, McClendon denied violating antitrust laws and said he would "fight to prove my innocence and to clear my name."
It was the second deadly crash connected to the Thunder organization in three weeks. On Feb. 10, Ingrid Williams, the 44-year-old wife of assistant coach Monty Williams, was killed in a head-on collision just outside of Oklahoma City when an oncoming car crossed the centre line and struck her SUV.
Oklahoma City built a 58-38 halftime lead with 16 points by Durant and a 24-8 run that included 3-pointers by reserves Kyle Singler, Randy Foye and Dion Waiters.
Forward Jeff Green, who played his first three NBA seasons for the Seattle-Oklahoma City franchise after joining them in a draft-day trade with Boston in 2007, played 17 scoreless minutes in his sixth game since joining the Clippers in a deal with Memphis on Feb. 18.
Green started in place of Luc Mbah a Moute, who has a laceration on his lower left eyelid that required stitches. Reserve guard Austin Rivers played for the first since Feb. 3, had six points in 19 minutes after missing 10 games with a fractured left hand.
J.J. Redick made four of his first six shots for the Clippers before leaving with 4:21 left in the first quarter because of a bruised lower back. By the time he returned with 7:48 left in the half, their seven-point deficit had increased to 44-28.
Thunder: Durant had 11 points in the first quarter, including a four-point play when he was fouled by Green at the top of the arc. … The Southwest Division-leading Thunder were coming off a 6-5 February, after going 13-3 in January and 12-3 in December.
Clippers: TV play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler will be honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Thursday. He is in his 37th season at the mike, the third-longest tenure of any current NBA team broadcaster. … Coach Doc Rivers didn’t have a timeline on Mbah a Moute’s return, but acknowleged he would miss at least a couple of games. "It’s a terrible spot," Rivers said. "He had to get stitches in the worst spot you can possible get them. The lucky part is it wasn’t a scratched retina or cornea or anything like that. I know he said he saw two of me today when we were talking. And I wouldn’t want to see two of me."
Thunder: At Golden State on Thursday.
Clippers: Host Atlanta on Saturday.