Thunder vs. Clippers preview: Teams battle for second in the West

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers trail the Oklahoma City Thunder by a half game for second place in the Western Conference heading into Sunday's game.

A win at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday could put the Los Angeles Clippers in second place in the Western Conference standings. The Clippers play the Thunder at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC. Los Angeles enters the game on a four-game winning streak and the Clippers have won eight of their last nine games since Chris Paul returned from injury.

Seven of those eight wins have been by double figures and four of the wins were against potential playoff teams. The only loss for the Clippers in that span came against the San Antonio Spurs, who have the league's best record.

Paul has had 10 or more assists in five of his nine games since returning to the lineup. He had missed 12 of the team's previous 14 games with a knee injury. The Clippers were 6-6 without him.

Oklahoma City has won both previous games against the Clippers this season, winning at home in November and then beating the Clippers in Los Angeles in January. Clippers forward Blake Griffin has averaged 27 points per game in those two losses, nearly nine points more than his season average. Paul missed one of the games with his knee injury and played poorly in the other, shooting just 2 for 14.

The Clippers have not been at full strength in either game against the Thunder. Chauncey Billups missed both games and Grant Hill and Caron Butler each missed one game. The team is still playing without Hill, but Butler and Billups have both returned to the starting lineup.

Kevin Durant has averaged 33.5 points per game in both Thunder victories over the Clippers. Oklahoma City is coming off a loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday. Ty Lawson of the Nuggets hit a jumper with .2 seconds left to give Denver the win seconds after Durant had tied the game for Oklahoma City.

The Thunder have lost four of their last seven games and have a tough road schedule coming up with games at San Antonio and at New York in the next week.

The Clippers currently trail the Thunder by a half game in the West standings and the Thunder trail the Spurs by three games. The Spurs host the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, playing their first game without injured star Tony Parker. Parker could miss up to four weeks after spraining his ankle on Friday.

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