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Chris Paul: Russell Westbrook will be just fine without Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, left, talks with teammate Kevin Durant, who's recovering from a broken bone in his foot, before the start of a preseason game against the Utah Jazz on Oct. 21.
(Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)

When the Clippers play Oklahoma City in their NBA season opener Thursday, the Thunder will be without star small forward Kevin Durant, who is out with a broken bone in his foot.

Chris Paul thinks Thunders guard Russell Westbrook will be just fine without his celebrated teammate.

“You could put him on the court with the Bad News Bears, and he’s going to be ready to play,” Paul said of Westbrook, a three-time All-Star.

The teams played in the second round of the playoffs last season, with the Thunder eliminating the Clippers in six games. Clippers Coach Doc Rivers recently showed the team footage of its infamous Game 5, in which the Clippers blew a seven-point lead in the final 49.2 seconds.

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“They’re a team that beat us,” Rivers said of the Thunder. “They’re in our way, and we’re in their way, and when you play those teams, that’s what makes the games so good, because both teams know that.”

With Durant out Thursday and expected to miss a possible total of 19 games, the Clippers have a better opportunity to beat the Thunder and improve their seeding in the Western Conference this year.

“Whether he’s there or not, we have to try to beat them every time we play them,” Rivers said.

The Clippers will be without Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who has a groin strain, on Thursday. The Thunder has a much longer injury list: Durant, Reggie Jackson (wrist), Jeremy Lamb (heel, Anthony Morrow (knee), Mitch McGary (foot) and Grant Jerrett (ankle).

DeAndre Jordan thinks it will still be a difficult game to win.

“I’m expecting a lot of Russell, ... a lot of Serge [Ibaka],” Jordan said. “Steven Adams has definitely improved, you saw him a lot in the playoffs. You’re definitely going to see Perry Jones a lot.

“But we’re not going to change the way that we’re going to attack them or our defensive coverages. We’re going to play as if they have everybody, and respect everybody on their team, just like they respect everybody on our team.”


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