The Los Angeles Clippers celebrated the return of point guard Chris Paul on Sunday with a 123-78 romp past the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 45-point margin of victory was the largest in Clippers club history. They set up their big win with a 46-point first quarter, coming out of the opening period with a 46-15 lead and never looking back.
Blake Griffin scored 26 points with 11 rebounds and six assists. His effort included a brace of spectacular alley-oop dunks — with assists from Paul, who missed 18 games with a separated right shoulder. In his first game since January 3 the star point guard played just under 23 minutes, scoring seven points and handing out eight assists with four steals.
Jamal Crawford scored 21 points and DeAndre Jordan added 10 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks for Los Angeles, who improved to 36-18.
Tony Wroten led the 76ers with 21 points and Thaddeus Young added 15 points and 11 rebounds, but Philadelphia, who lost their sixth straight, were never in it. Los Angeles opened the game on a 13-0 scoring run. Paul admitted that after his time off, the frantic early pace was exhausting.
“The only way you know you’re ready is by getting out here,” he said. “I tried to stay in shape as best I could, but nothing is like game shape. That first three-four minutes, it was tough.”
Elsewhere, Kevin Durant’s torrid scoring pace continued Sunday as the Oklahoma City forward poured in 41 points to lead the Thunder to a 112-100 NBA win over the New York Knicks.
Durant just missed out on a triple-double, adding 10 rebounds and nine assists and also blocking two shots before Thunder coach Scott Brooks took him out of the game with less than two minutes remaining.
Durant has scored 20 or more points in 26 consecutive games for the Thunder, who rebounded from a 103-102 loss at the final buzzer against the Orlando Magic on Friday. (AFP)
Reggie Jackson added 19 points and six assists for the Thunder who have won nine straight at home. Serge Ibaka contributed 16 points and nine rebounds. Carmelo
Anthony, second in scoring in the NBA behind Durant, finished with 15 points.
With the duel between the league’s leading scorers falling a little flat, Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton scored 16 points apiece for the Knicks, who have lost four of their last five games.
The Thunder led 61-60 with 9:39 remaining in the third quarter when Thabo Sefolosha drained back-to-back three-pointers to spark a 10-0 Thunder scoring run.
Oklahoma City stretched their lead to as many as 12 points and took an 86-78 cushion into the final quarter.
New York whittled the gap to six points, but Durant rebuilt the advantage with a three-pointer with 8:11 to play and the Knicks couldn’t get the gap under eight points the rest of the way. Afp