The Oklahoma City Thunder held off a furious Los Angeles Clippers run to win 108-104 Sunday afternoon. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant carried the Thunder through this game. Westbrook was fantastic with a double-double 29 points, 10 assists. Durant had 35 points, 9 rebounds. The win gave Oklahoma City the 43-16 record on the season, improving to 17-12 on the road.
“This was a good road win for us,” Westbrook said. “It was a good playoff atmosphere.”
In a game that turned out to be a wild ride, it was marred by the Serge Ibaka play late in the fourth quarter. Yet, it was Ibaka’s huge three-point play and his key block with seven seconds that really solidified the Thunder victory.
Westbrook played phenomenal lately, and he was especially today. He had 29 points and 10 assists. It was his leadership and his control that helped Oklahoma City to the win. With 1:25 to go in the game, Westbrook cut off a screen and went straight to the rim for the layup, giving Oklahoma City the 101-100 lead.
Before all of that, Oklahoma City played great, almost flawlessly at times. The Thunder came out and ran up to a nine-point lead early in the game, when Durant hit a jumper, giving Oklahoma City the 13-4 lead. Los Angeles tried to make a run in the quarter, but just never could get within four points in the quarter.
Throughout the second quarter, Kevin Martin never found his stroke. Luckily for him, Durant played a lot of it. Durant dropped 10 points in the quarter, and was very key in the Thunder pushing their lead to above double-digits.
Despite struggling from the free throw line today, the Thunder kept their distance, and their lead continued to grow. Durant dribbled up casually, drained a three in Jamal Crawford’s face. Oklahoma City led 48-37. It was in the midgst of a 13-2 run over 4:22 seconds of the quarter.
They came out in the third quarter, and were just on fire as the first half. Oklahoma City, with 3:51 left in the third quarter, found themselves up 77-58. Los Angeles was on the ropes, and the Thunder looked to be running away with the ball game.
Not quite so.
Los Angeles closed the quarter on a 15-5 run, giving the Clippers the 82-73 deficit at the end of the third.
Chris Paul was huge in the Clippers come back. He had 11 points from that mark, until the 6:50 mark in the fourth quarter. Los Angeles had cut the Thunder lead from 19 points down to just four points. The rest of his team took over from there.
Los Angeles ran a zone defense that really just confused the Thunder. From the 5:40 mark left in the third quarter to the four minute mark in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City shot just 6-of-22. They scored only four points in the paint, off 2-of-7 shooting. Oklahoma City also went a dreadful 2-of-11 from three-point range during that time span. Everything else was from outside of the paint.
Some how, some way, Westbrook and Ibaka did their best to carry the team, as Durant seemed tired, not taking a shot in the fourth. Oklahoma City survived, outscored the Clippers 9-4 in the final ? minutes.
As I said earlier, the big thing was the “ball” of Blake Griffin. With 1:52 left in the fourth quarter, Griffin and Ibaka were battling for position, Ibaka dropped the hammer, for a lack of better words. Griffin hit the ground, and Ibaka was given a Flagrant 1. That was off a Matt Barnes made three. Then Blake hit hit one of two free throws. Then, as Los Angeles got the ball back from the flagrant, Crawford nailed a three again.
Just like that, Los Angeles had grabbed the 100-99 lead.
Keys to the Game
Three-Point Shooting: C
Oklahoma City shot the ball deep very well in the first half. They were 4-of-7. Then the Clippers went to the zone. Oklahoma City then shot an depressing 3-of-14 for the rest of the game. The Clippers took full advantage of the game. The Thunder need to to do better in both halves.
Pick and Roll Defense: B
Tonight, it was other things that killed Oklahoma City. Not so much of the pick and roll. There were times where Oklahoma City didn’t cover their guy, hurt the most. Really, for the most part limited to Chris Paul, and that helped Oklahoma City win tonight.
Bench Scoring: B
Okay, Oklahoma City didn’t outscore the Clippers, nor did they reach their season average. They did however limit the Clippers. Los Angeles, the league’s best scoring bench, was limited to just 34 points (they avearge 41 per game). Oklahoma City scored just 17 points, but 10 came from Martin. He did struggled, despite his points.
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