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Oklahoma City Thunder dropped in MLK nightcap by surging Los Angeles Clippers 120-98

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Steven Adams’ void leaves huge hole in OKC’s middle as Clippers blast Thunder in the paint

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder lost on the road to the Los Angeles Clippers 120-98.

In the wake of starting center Steven Adams’ concussion, OKC was forced to go with a makeshift opening lineup. Consequently, the Thunder fought a losing uphill battle opposite the cohesive Los Angeles Clippers. A potent LAC bench outscored the Thunder reserves 53-44, as veteran Maurice Speights added a season-best 23 points.

On an easy night of work, the surging Clippers led by as much 24 en route to dominating an undermanned OKC unit 62-34 in the paint. Los Angeles also heavily crashed the glass, out-rebounding Oklahoma City by a wide 47-36 margin.

Overall, the Clippers (29-14) have won seven-consecutive contests following a six-game losing streak. Chris Paul (8 pts, 6 ast, 13 mins) suffered a sprained thumb and played limited minutes throughout; however, his squad still jumped out to an early lead, and never looked back.

Russell Westbrook led all scorers with 24 points, yet struggled again from deep (2-of-7 3PM). Joffrey Lauvergne (13 pts, nine rebs), Enes Kanter (12), and rookie Domantas Sabonis (10) joined Westbrook in double-figure scoring.

Perhaps the most demoralizing aspect of this Thunder setback was that it occurred primary in the absence of Clipper superstars Paul and Blake Griffin. In the injured Griffin’s stead, perennially underrated DeAndre Jordan spearheaded Los Angeles’ charge with 19 points, 15 rebounds, and four blocks.

Jordan now has six games of 15-plus rebounds amid LAC’s league-best winning streak. Raymond Felton (15 pts, six ast), J.J. Redick (20), Austin Rivers (16) and Brandon Bass (10) rounded out an efficient 54/42/81 shooting split for Los Angeles.

The Clippers have held their previous five opponents under 100 points. The Thunder and LAC finished a hotly-contested season series at two wins apiece.

Meanwhile, on the second night of a back-to-back, Oklahoma City (25-18) lost for the second time in three outings.

OKC continues a grueling six-game road trip, throughout a taxing end-month schedule, Wednesday vs. Golden State.