It's not as though Ryan Gomes had a long and storied history against Kevin Durant.
In fact, Gomes didn't guard Durant when Gomes was in Minnesota, and the Thunder had Durant guard Corey Brewer. But Gomes, now with the Clippers, is an analytical student of basketball and acknowledged that Oklahoma City's consistent appearances on TV have been beneficial.
Particularly helpful was one playoff series against a certain other tenant of Staples Center, one housing a larger-than-life defensive specialist from the Lakers.
"You try to steal some things other defenders do," Gomes said Thursday after practice. "[Ron] Artest plays him well, so I try to take a little bit out of his book and try to guard him that way, physical with a body on him at all times."
Granted, it's not often that Durant is going to shoot six for 24 and miss all 10 three-point attempts — as he did in the Clippers' 107-92 win against the Thunder on Wednesday night. Along with the kudos going to two rookies, point guard Eric Bledsoe and power forward Blake Griffin, Gomes was getting his proper due for his job on the scoring machine Durant.
"I just wanted to give him different looks, crowd his space," Gomes said. "I know he's a threat to score; his length was a problem. If I could get close to him and make him put it on the ground and then shoot it, it gave me a better chance than letting him measure me and then shoot.
"Our help defense was there at times also. When he did put it on the ground, he didn't have a straight angle. He had to think about it and caused some turnovers due to that.
"I think the best way to put it was that we had a good game plan for him. Also, he was never in a rhythm, so we didn't have to adjust much. When a scorer gets in a rhythm off certain plays, that's when we have to adjust. I got to play him pretty much the same way the whole game."
Those sort of annoying, unsettling nights aren't the norm for Durant, who was visibly bothered afterward.
"It's frustrating," Durant said. "It was a bad shooting night for all of us. The Clippers did a good job defensively. But some of the shots we didn't make were dunks and layups. We fumbled the ball. It's just frustrating. It's something you lose sleep over."
Bledsoe, of course, passed a huge test. There are more to come with guards Randy Foye and Baron Davis out of the lineup and having no fixed date to return. And the quality of opposition doesn't get any easier on this trip, starting Friday against the Nuggets' Chauncey Billups and Utah's Deron Williams one night later.
"And Chris Paul and Tony Parker," Gomes said, adding the names of the point guards of the Clippers' two road opponents next week. "It's good because it's going to help him in the long run. To help lead us to our first win, that's going to stick in his mind: The second game he started, we got the W."
Said Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro: "He's going to have his bumps and bruises along the way. We've got to guide him and keep his confidence and let us use his strengths."
Times staff writer Baxter Holmes contributed to this report.