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CLIPPERS FYI

High-scoring Clippers are doing it with defense too

The Clippers, ranked third in the NBA in scoring, are eighth in points given up, and they were stingy in recent games against Chicago and San Antonio.

November 20, 2012|By Broderick Turner

OKLAHOMA CITY — Much has been made about all the offensive weapons the Clippers have, and rightfully so for a team that was third in the NBA in scoring (101.5 points per game) before Tuesday night's games.

But the Clippers also are getting it done on defense.

They went into Tuesday allowing 92.6 points per game, the eighth-best defense in the league and had held teams to 41.9% field-goal shooting, second-best in the NBA.

And the Clippers led the league in steals (9.90) and were fifth in blocked shots (7.30).

"In order for us to be the level of the team we should be, the defensive end is where it starts and finishes for us," Coach Vinny Del Negro said after practice Tuesday. "We know we have some good offensive players, but we need to lock in defensively on a consistent basis."

The Clippers were locked in heading into Oklahoma City.

They held their two previous opponents — Chicago and San Antonio — below 36% shooting and 90 points. The Bulls made 33.7% of their shots and the Spurs 35.4%.

"We have guys that are just tenacious," Blake Griffin said. "We have guys that really attack. It's the movement and the trust that we have as a team."

The Clippers' defense will be tested again when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma City is second in the NBA in scoring, averaging 101.73 points per game.

Thunder forward Kevin Durant (24.5 points) is second in the league in scoring, point guard Russell Westbrook (20.5) is 11th and Kevin Martin (17.6), who was acquired from Houston in the James Harden trade, is 25th in scoring despite coming off the bench.

"It changed a little bit, but they still are a very good team," Griffin said. "They are still good defensively. They block shots. They have obviously the best scorer [Durant] in the game and also a great point guard [Westbrook] and guys that are very capable."

Injury update

Caron Butler, who didn't play after the first quarter on Monday night because of a strained right shoulder, will try to play against the Thunder.

"He's sore. He battled through it … as best he could" in the last game, Del Negro said. "He'll be fine. He's tough."

Matt Barnes (left pinkie) and Ryan Hollins (left ankle sprain) are expected to play against the Thunder.

Paul's dunk

Late in the third quarter of the San Antonio game on Monday night, Chris Paul rolled in for a one-handed dunk, his second of the season.

That was all the 6-foot point guard's teammates talked about at practice Tuesday.

"Yeah, Chris Paul should be in the dunk contest," Griffin, who won the NBA All-Star dunk contest in 2011, joked in earshot of Paul. "It's kind of one of those things that gets us going. You don't see him dunk much. I'll give him credit, that was a nice one. It surprised me. I got taken back a little bit. It definitely pumped us up."

Twitter: @BA_Turner

broderick.turner@latimes.com

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