(Reuters) – Chris Paul scored 24 of his game-high 31 points in a dominant second half display to carry the Los Angeles Clippers to a last-ditch 100-98 road victory over the West-leading Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.
The game was locked at 98-98 when Paul made a driving layup with eight seconds remaining and the Clippers held their breath as the Thunder’s Kevin Durant missed a three-point attempt on the final buzzer.
“We needed that to keep our playoff run alive,” Paul told reporters after the Clippers (35-23) stayed half a game in front of Memphis for fourth in the West.
“We haven’t locked up a spot in the playoffs yet but that’s what we’re looking to do.”
The Thunder (42-16) stayed one game clear at the top of the Western Conference with chasing San Antonio also beaten.
The Spurs suffered a surprising 98-84 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, playing without the injured Kobe Bryant, as Andrew Bynum shone in the absence of the team’s talisman.
The Lakers seven-footer grabbed 30 rebounds to become the first player to reach the total since Minnesota’s Kevin Love achieved the feat in 2010. Bynum also added 16 points.
In Oklahoma City, the home side led early but faded in the closing stages with Durant and sidekick Russell Westbrook scoring 22 and 20 points respectively but shooting a combined 10-for-35 from the field.
The Clippers trailed by as much as 11 in the second but chipped away at the advantage as the game became a shootout in the final minutes.