Wed, May 07, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Clippers silence Thunder, Wizards outpace Indiana

AFP, OKLAHOMA CITY and INDIANAPOLIS

The Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin, center, goes to the basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, back, and Serge Ibaka in the second half of their NBA playoff series opener on Monday at Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma.

Photo: EPA

The Clippers’ Chris Paul scored 17 of his 32 points in the first quarter of their NBA playoff series opener against Oklahoma City on Monday to help his side rout the Thunder 122-105.

The Clippers seized control early on and never let up, leading by as many as 29 points en route to the triumph that gave them a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference second-round series.

Paul shook off a hamstring injury and sprained left thumb, connecting on his first eight three-point attempts and missing only two of his 14 shots from the field overall.

He threw in 10 assists for good measure as Los Angeles showed no hangover from their tough, seven-game first-round tussle with Golden State, played in the shadow of the controversy over Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racially charged comments that got the 80-year-old billionaire banned for life from all NBA activities.

The Clippers shot a sizzling 54.9 percent from the field and connected on 15 of 29 from three-point range on Monday, with Blake Griffin scoring 23 points and Jamal Crawford contributing 17 off the bench.

The Thunder, who were coming off their own punishing seven-game series against the Memphis Grizzlies, benefited from characteristically strong outings from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook scored a team-high 29 points, while Durant — widely expected to be named the league’s Most Valuable Player this week — added 25 for Oklahoma City, who will look to rebound when they host Game 2 today.

Paul said the Clippers would have to put their big win behind them for today’s clash.

“We don’t go into Game 2 with a 17-point lead,” he said. “You’ve got to come back and be hungry.”

Durant could hardly wait for the rematch to have a shot at redemption, saying: “That’s the best part about it, just knowing that the games come so quickly.”

Clippers coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers said there was no real secret to their success.

“We moved the ball. We shared the ball. We were really good with our spacing tonight,” he said. “Tonight we just had one of those nights where the ball found the open guy every single time. The second part is, you have to make [the shot], and we did that, too.”

Paul followed a J.J. Redick three-pointer with his first from behind the arc to knot the score at 16-16 halfway through the first quarter. He added two more from three-point range in a 13-2 scoring run that gave the Clippers a 34-22 lead.

Paul’s fifth three-pointer in the closing seconds of the opening period produced a 39-25 lead and the Thunder never got the gap under 13 points from there.

In the day’s other playoff action, Bradley Beal scored a game-high 25 points and Trevor Ariza added 22 as the well-rested Washington Wizards beat top-seeded Indiana 102-96 on Monday to open their NBA playoff series.

The Wizards improved to 4-0 on the road in the post-season as they seized the lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference second-round series.

Beal added seven rebounds, seven assists and five steals, while Ariza connected on all of his six attempts from three-point range for the Wizards, who had not played since wrapping up a 4-1 first-round series win over the Chicago Bulls on April 29.

The Pacers needed seven games to get past Atlanta, advancing with a Game 7 win on Saturday.

Marcin Gortat and Drew Gooden each posted double-doubles in Monday’s comprehensive triumph — Washington’s first since 1982 in the second round of the playoffs.

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