LOS ANGELES (AP) The last time Chris Paul went down with an injury, the Los Angeles Clippers went into a tailspin.
They’re hoping it doesn’t happen again.
J.J. Redick scored 20 points, DeAndre Jordan had 19 points and 15 rebounds, and the streaking Clippers overcame Paul’s latest injury to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-98 on Monday night.
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The banged-up Clippers tied a franchise record for their best start to a calendar year at 7-0. The team began 1974 with the same mark when the club was located in Buffalo.
Los Angeles owns the NBA’s longest active winning streak despite being without injured star Blake Griffin. Paul sprained his left thumb in the second quarter of this one and didn’t return.
”You worry when he doesn’t come back out in the second half,” Redick said. ”Hopefully, it’s not serious, but if it is, Blake is going to be back soon. We’ll just continue to play.”
Last month, Paul sat out with a left hamstring strain and the Clippers lost six in a row. He came back shortly after their current winning streak began.
Coach Doc Rivers said an initial X-ray on Paul’s thumb was negative and the star point guard was set to have an MRI on Tuesday. Rivers didn’t see the play but said he was told Russell Westbrook came down on Paul’s thumb.
Despite the injury, the Clippers shot 55 percent and improved to 16-0 when hitting 50 percent or better. They were dominant in the paint, outscoring the Thunder 62-34.
”Our whole goal was to own the paint,” Rivers said.
Westbrook scored 24 points on 7-of-19 shooting in three quarters for the Thunder, the last team to beat the Clippers – on New Year’s Eve – before the calendar turned and their winning streak began. He was the only starter in double figures for Oklahoma City.
”We weren’t ready to play and we didn’t play good defense and they were more physical than us,” Westbrook said. ”We were sluggish.”
Jordan had three dunks, including a reverse off a pass from Marreese Speights, in the third quarter when the Clippers stretched their lead to 27 points. Speights finished with a season-high 23 points.
”We’re just clicking, all of us,” Jordan said. ”It’s more defense. Our second unit has been amazing. We’re coming out with that mindset of playing hard for 48 minutes.”
Jordan sat out the fourth when Speights dunked and hit two 3-pointers.
The Clippers outscored the Thunder 24-6, including nine points by Speights and six by Redick, to take a 22-point lead in the second.
”We didn’t move the ball and we were stagnant,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. ”We gave them opportunities. We weren’t ready to play.”
Thunder: C Steven Adams sat out with a concussion sustained in the third quarter at Sacramento on Sunday night. … The Thunder were coming off a win at Sacramento 24 hours earlier, but fell to 2-6 on the second night of a back-to-back.
Clippers: G Austin Rivers and Jordan were hit with technical fouls. They’ll be expected to donate their fines to a charity of their choosing under a program Doc Rivers announced earlier this month as a way to reduce the team’s high number of technicals. … Paul missed seven games in December and early this month because of hamstring issues. … The Clippers went 2-2 against the Thunder this season. … G Raymond Felton was 7 of 7 from the floor and scored 15 points. … For the second straight game, Jordan missed just one field goal attempt, going 7 of 8. … The Clippers scored the most points during their winning streak.
Thunder: Visit the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday in the fourth game of their six-game trip.
Clippers: After two days off, they host Minnesota on Thursday.