After a solid first half, the Oklahoma City Thunder found themselves struggling in the second half after Serge Ibaka was ejected in the waning seconds of the first half. The Thunder were never the same as Oklahoma City was outscored by 17 points in the second half. Oklahoma City fell to the Clippers 111-103 for their first loss to the Clippers since April 16, 2012.
After falling down 8-0 to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Thunder could’ve rolled over and looked forward to tomorrow night’s game against the Golden State Warriors. However, they didn’t and made it a good ball game. Thunder used a 11-2 run over the next 2:31 to give Oklahoma City the 17-16 lead.
In the second quarter, Oklahoma City was able to push the lead out to as many as 14 points. Oklahoma City led 47-33 with 5:44 left in the second after Durant hit the front end of two free throws. Oklahoma City was in the middle of a 11-3 run that pushed a five point lead to 14.
Then with about six seconds left until halftime, it happened. After a foul was called, Blake Griffin had Serge Ibaka’s arm locked up, and Ibaka gave Griffin a shove, which brought in Matt Barnes. Barnes then shoves Ibaka and that set everyone off. Ibaka drew a fist and an ejection. Barnes was also ejected, Griffin was just issued a technical foul.
Ibaka is the second Thunder player ejected this season, and in back-to-back games.
“Coaches coach, players play, officials officiate,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “I have no complaints with the officiating tonight.”
Oklahoma City found themselves leading at halftime 62-53 off a Westbrook pull up three-pointer with two seconds left.
In the second half, Oklahoma City watched the Clippers jump out to a 7-1 run to cut the Thunder lead to just four points. A little bit later, the Clippers, led by Griffin and Chris Paul, found themselves in a tied ball game; and then they had the lead. Los Angeles held the Thunder to just 29.4 percent field goal shooting in the quarter. All of a sudden, the Thunder found themselves from leading by nine, to trailing by five after three.
With Scott Brooks forced to use Derek Fisher, Ryan Gomes and Hasheem Thabeet for extended period of minutes tonight due to no Kendrick Perkins or Ibaka, the Clippers continued to move forward with the momentum. Los Angeles had a lead by as much as 13 points at 91-78 as the Clippers started the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run.
With 3:25 remaining in the game, Reggie Jackson drained a three to cut the Clippers lead to 100-96. However, just two plays later, Jackson got a little too fancy and had his pocket picked. Los Angeles turned it into two quick points. Jamal Crawford hit a wide open three-pointer with 34 seconds left to give Clippers a 109-101 lead, essentially sealing the game.
Kevin Durant was pretty special once again as he scored 33 points on 8-of-18 shooting. He also included 10 assists and six rebounds. Russell Westbrook pitched in 19 points, 10 assists. It was the first time in the Oklahoma City franchise history that two players had more than 10 assists.
It has to be a short memory for the Thunder as they will now turn their sights to the Golden State Warriors tomorrow night, Thursday. Oklahoma City and the Warriors will tip-off at 9:30 on TNT.
Get Westbrook going: B
Westbrook started well. He was 2-of-5 for five points and five assists in the first quarter. His first half was pretty solid as well, 12 points, seven assists. However, the second half is where he struggled and turned the ball over a few times. It wasn’t how he started, more like how he finished. Still knocking off that rust.
Defend the three: A
For most of the game, Los Angeles struggled to shoot the three. They finished 6-of-28 from deep. However, that last one from Crawford was an absolute dagger. Credit the Thunder for the perimeter defense throughout the game. Los Angeles didn’t have too many wide open three attempts and that’s good. I guess.
Best Bench: D+
Oklahoma City’s bench only scored 22 points tonight on 7-of-24 shooting (29.1 percent), six turnovers and a plethora of personal fouls. When Ibaka went out the bench got thinner and it continued to show. Jeremy Lamb and Derek Fisher combined to go 0-of-6 from the floor and 0-of-2 from three tonight. Blah.