Game #58 | February 23, 2014
Chesapeake Energy Arena | Oklahoma City, OK
OKLAHOMA CITY – Thumbs up all around for the Clippers.
Chris Paul, playing with a sprained right thumb, came close to a triple-double. DeAndre Jordan, playing a lion’s share of the minutes at center had his 67th career double-double. And Jamal Crawford hit every shot the Clippers needed down the stretch as the Clippers pulled out a 125-117 victory Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena over the Western Conference leading Oklahoma City Thunder.
There are not many playoff games in late February. But Sunday afternoon had the reverberations of one: two of the conference’s premier teams, a national television exclusive, a wild environment and multiple stars playing like stars.
Crawford, who scored a team-high 36 points, made a 3-pointer from the left wing after superstar Kevin Durant missed a pair of free throws on the other end that would have given Oklahoma City a one-point lead with less than two minutes to go. And with the Clippers up by two and 40 seconds remaining, Crawford drilled a free-throw line jumper, bending his knees after he landed and seemingly willing the ball to roll into the basket.
“I’ve always been comfortable in that position late in games,” Crawford said. “But now I have such good players around me that they attract attention as well. So, the shots are a little bit easier. Coach [Doc Rivers] had some great plays down the stretch. It’s a product of everything.”
Crawford’s afternoon help offset 42 points from Durant, who went 15-of-30 from the field and also had 10 assists.
“I think we did a good job [on Durant],” said Barnes, who finished with 24 points and was one of the primary defenders against Durant. “We tried to trap him. We had the bigs show out on down screens. So, we tried to make him have difficult looks and make somebody else beat us.”
Paul was a game-time decision up until about 10 minutes before tipoff with a sprained right thumb, but finished with 18 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, narrowly missing out on his first triple-double as a Clipper. Blake Griffin had 20 points, six assists and seven rebounds. Jordan scored 18 points in 42 minutes with 12 rebounds, including a key tip out to Crawford for a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to quell an Oklahoma City run. And Barnes finished one shy of his season high in points and added seven boards. He went 6-for-10 from 3-point range and the Clippers were 13-for-30 from distance as a team.
“We have such rollers with Blake and D.J. that people don’t want to get dunked on, so they have to tag,” Crawford said. “When they tag, that’s what opens up the 3-ball.”
The Clippers (38-20) snapped a two-game losing streak. They are one of five teams in the NBA to have avoided losing three games in a row this season.
“It was very important, especially having dropped our last two [games],” Griffin said. “This win was big for us. We haven’t really made a statement. We’ve won some games, but not [a lot] of big games, so this is big for us.
“I think we really dug down. There have been times when it might have looked like we were going to lose. But everybody stepped their game up. Jamal Crawford was unbelievable, Matt was unbelievable, D.J., C.P., everyone down the line. Guys just stepped up and made plays.”
On Sunday, it started with Barnes making plays and ended with Crawford.
The opening minutes could not have gone better for the Clippers, running off 12 of the first 14 points, pushing the ball off every defensive rebound and immediately taking the normally boisterous Thunder crowd out of the game. And even after the Thunder took a 40-32 lead in the middle of the second quarter, the offense picked up.
Barnes scored 17 points in the first half, including a 3-pointer from straightaway with nine seconds left in the half. Griffin drew a foul off the ball from Serge Ibaka and made the free throw that followed. Durant answered with a long 2-pointer at the buzzer, but the Clippers led 72-66.
They scored 44 points in the second quarter, two short of a season-high for points in any quarter. It was uncharacteristic of a Thunder defense that ranks fourth in the league in defensive efficiency.
It was the fifth time this season L.A. scored 70 points or more in the opening half. They shot 65.9 percent, made six of their 10 3-pointers and played with a tempo and rhythm that was absent for long stretches in their previous two games since the -Star break. All
The Clippers opened up a 15-point lead in the third quarter, but the Thunder needed just 2:14 to cut it 99-93. Durant capped the run with a 3-pointer from three steps behind the arc with 1.7 seconds left and his jumper and a Derek Fisher’s fourth 3-pointer of the game made it 102-100 early in the fourth.
Crawford answered with a 3-pointer of his own after Jordan tapped out an offensive rebound to Crawford waiting behind the line on the right wing.
Fisher made another three to tie the game at 107 in the fourth quarter. It was the second game in a row the Clippers were hurt by an opponent coming off the bench. However, Fisher missed his final two shots from distance after starting 5-for-5.
But they overcame shots from Fisher, Durant and Russell Westbrook, who was playing his second game since returning from knee surgery, in the fourth quarter and left Oklahoma City with arguably their most impressive road win of the season.
“Something we’ve talked about in the last two days is that we haven’t beaten any contenders on the road,” Barnes said. “We have to start doing a better job on the road because in the Playoffs that’s what it’s going to come down to. So, I think that was big today, coming in here after a tough loss two nights ago. It’s a good step for us.”
The Clippers are 4-1 when wearing their “Back in Blue” short-sleeve jersey and are averaging 117.8 points per game… Fisher scored 15 points off the bench for Oklahoma City… Ibaka finished with 20 points and six rebounds… The Clippers had 34 points in transition… Crawford was 5-for-8 from 3-point range. He’s 15 3-pointers away from tying his own franchise record for most in a single season (149)… The Clippers are 24-0 when they make at least nine 3-pointers… J.J. Redick missed his seventh game in a row with a bulging disc in his lower back… Kendrick Perkins (groin) sat out for the Thunder. Rookie Steven Adams made the start in his place… All five starters scored at least 18 points for the Clippers. They are undefeated when each member of their starting lineup has 10 points or more apiece (9-0)…
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS HEAD COACH DOC RIVERS:
On the win:
“It’s a good feeling coming in here winning against this team. It’s great. They’re an excellent defensive team and the way we scored against this team is really impressive for us. I don’t think we had a quarter under 26 points. I thought in the second half that our defense was so much better. We gave up too many second shots and extra shots. They took I don’t know how many more field goals than us but they still only shot 46 percent. Overall it was a good team effort. I thought the small line up helped us and everybody did their thing.”
On All the Three Pointers:
“It’s important for us, it’s a part of our game that hasn’t really come through a lot this year but it did tonight. We stretched the floor pretty well. It’s funny trying to get Matt [Barnes] to run to the corners like that all year and now he’s actually doing it and that’s a good shot for him. We can get it in transition and when he does run there, that’s why DJ [DeAndre Jordan] gets the dunks because the guards have to make a choice - take DJ or leave the guy in the corner. That’s really helped us.”
On the team building upon the win:
“I think so. If something doesn’t work the next game then your trust is gone. But every time you do it, it gives you a chance to build on it.”
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS GUARD CHRIS PAUL:
On the win:
“It’s definitely a good win for us. We were on the plane yesterday flying here and we were talking about how we hadn’t beat any good teams on the road. You know, any really good teams. This would be the perfect time to start. Doc [Rivers] was on us, telling us even in the playoffs you’re going to lose a home game, at some point you got to win on the road. Hopefully this is a win for us that gets us going.”
On being vocal on the court to correct team’s mistakes:
“This is our team. If we’re going win it all, this is who we’re going to do it with. If we can’t get on one another with the understanding that we have one common goal, just like I did that I want guys to do that to me. I think that’s what winning teams do.”
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS GUARD JAMAL CRAWFORD:
On the team improving in final stretch of the season:
“Coming down the stretch we just want to continue to build good habits. Continue to do our game every single night; it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. As long as we keep getting better down the stretch, I think we’ll be alright.”
On trying to slow down the Thunder’s offense:
“We had our hands full, but on defense we covered for each other and trusted each other. Even when they made a shot, if we were doing the right thing, then we’re ok with that.”
THUNDER HEAD COACH SCOTT BROOKS:
“I think it’s obvious we have to get back to playing defensive basketball. We are a very good defensive team, but we didn’t play like that tonight. We gave up 44 points in a quarter, that’s usually at times (what we allow in a) half. We just have to get back to what we do well, we have been doing it well all season long. Tonight and the last game wasn’t up to our level of defense.”
On Derek Fisher:
“Well he brings it every time, just his toughness and his want is inspiring. He makes his guy struggle to score the basketball, and that’s what we need to have all our players do. We have been doing it quite a bit but we have to get back to doing it soon.”
On Russell coming back and if there is some fitting in offensively to be done:
“It’s an adjustment that we all have to make, and we are going to make it. It just takes some time. He is as dynamic of a player as any, on both ends of the floor. He brings us heart, he brings us hustle, and his game is going to come along. You cannot expect the guy to miss the games that he has missed and come out making every shot and making every pass. He is doing it with hustle and heart, and that’s what we need him to continue to do in that leadership position. He takes the challenge of guarding players, and that’s what we need. We need to find a team full of guys to getting back to doing that.”
THUNDER FORWARD KEVIN DURANT:
On moving on after this game:
“Well we have just got to get over this little stretch we are in. We have just got to get better. We have just got to play defense. We can’t just let teams come in and do whatever they want offensively.”
On effort and play making:
“I think the effort is there, of course we all have great intentions, of course we could get better. They got hot because we let them do what they want…When Jamal Crawford is coming across half court shooting it with confidence, you are going to see the ball go in the rim. That started off early and it is tough to turn a team off, especially a team that can score so well.”
On the comeback in the fourth quarter:
“We had defenders on the court and everybody was defending at a high level. We were making shots, we were passing the basketball and making shots.”
THUNDER GUARD THABO SEFOLOSHA:
On the Thunder’s defense?:
“I think all of us know we need to sacrifice our bodies a little bit more. We watched a few clips of the first half at half time and that was the thing. Just keep them in front of us and run back.”
On Fisher’s shooting:
“It was big, it was big. He came out and played really hard, you know that’s what he brings to the team and making shots and gave us that push to be back in the game.”
On defending the Clippers:
“We have to come in and help with the big’s and after that they kick it out. They were difficult hard to defend today, they made some big shots.”
- Postgame: Chris Paul | 2/23/2014Chris Paul talks about his thumb and the importance of today's win.
- Postgame: Jamal Crawford | 2/23/2014Jamal talks about clutch shooting and Matt Barnes.
- Postgame: Doc Rivers | 2/23/2014Doc Rivers talks about the game, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes.
- Clippers vs. ThunderJamal Crawford scores 36 points to help the Clippers beat the Thunder 125-117.
- Crawford Scores 36Jamal Crawford makes shot after shot en route to a 36 point performance in the Clippers win.
- Clippers vs. Thunder: First halfJamal Crawford has 17 points in the first half as the Clippers lead the Thunder at halftime, 72-66.
- Long Oop to JordanDeAndre Jordan catches the long alley-oop pass and throws down the dunk.
- Griffin to JordanBlake Griffin throws the long alley-oop to DeAndre Jordan for the amazing flush.
- Pregame News Conference: Doc Rivers | 2/23/14Doc Rivers says Chris Paul (thumb) is "50-50" to play vs. Oklahoma City.
- Chris Paul Postgame - 2/21/14Paul addresses the media following the game in Memphis.
- Matt Barnes Postgame - 2/21/14Barnes addresses the media from Memphis.
- Postgame: Doc Rivers - 2/21/14Doc Rivers addresses the media following the game vs. Memphis.
- Pregame News Conference: Doc Rivers | 2/21/14Doc Rivers talks about the free agent process regarding buyouts as well as provides more insight about the trade deadline.
- LACtv Preview: Clippers at GrizzliesClippers begin road trip with a visit to Memphis Friday night.
- Chris Paul Practice Video - 2/20/14Chris Paul discusses the trade deadline at practice.
- Doc Rivers Practice Video - 2/20/14Doc Rivers discusses the trade deadline from practice in Memphis.
- Blake's Top 100 Dunks | Part 1 (100-81)Take a look at Blake's top dunks of all-time.
- Clippers Highlights vs SpursHighlights from the Clippers 103-113 loss to the Spurs
- LACtv Postgame: Clippers vs SpursThe Clippers fall to San Antonio in their first game after the All Star break.
- Postgame: Jamal Crawford - 2/18/14Crawford addresses the media following the game vs. San Antonio.
|CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM THE GAME »|
|Behind-the-Scenes | Playoff Practice | 4/18/2014 April 18, 2014||Best Moments: Clippers vs. Warriors | 2013-14 April 17, 2014||Best Moments from the 2013-14 Season April 17, 2014||Clippers vs. Trail Blazers | 4/16/2014 April 16, 2014|
|Celebrities at Clippers Games | 2013-14 April 16, 2014||In-Game Action: Clippers vs. Nuggets - 4/15/14 April 16, 2014|
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By: Eric Patten | Follow @EricPatten
There are better, or easier, places to snap a two-game losing streak than tornado alley. But the Clippers, saddled with consecutive losses in the their first two games after the All-Star break, will be tasked with doing just that Sunday afternoon against Western Conference leading Oklahoma City Thunder.
“We’ve got to come out with the right mindset,” Blake Griffin said. “We’ve got to have mental toughness right out of the gate against a team like that.”
The Thunder (43-13), who suffered their most lopsided defeat of the season on Thursday against the Heat, have only lost two games in a row at home twice since the beginning of the 2011-12 season. They have done so once this year, though, dropping back-to-back games on Dec. 31 and Jan. 2. And they have won the last two times they’ve faced the Clippers (37-20) at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Still, the two West powerhouses have played nearly even in recent history. The Clippers are 7-8 against Oklahoma City in their last 15 meetings.
Sunday could have implications in the Western Conference moving forward. The Clippers are 6.5 games behind the Thunder for the No. 1 seed, but are in a crowd chasing No. 2. They are one of four teams separated by 3.5 games between second and fifth place. A victory over the Thunder would not only move them closer to the top of the West, but give the Clippers a 2-1 edge in the season series with a chance to win it in their final game against the Thunder in April.
Chris Paul vs. Russell Westbrook
- Griffin and Kevin Durant, who each scored 38 points in last Sunday’s All-Star Game, will operate as the primary scoring options for their respective teams. And they will be counted on more than ever with their point guards still working their way back from injury. Griffin is the NBA’s second leading scoring in the month of February (33.1 points per game), while Durant, who leads the NBA in scoring overall, is third this month (32.5). Both of them have played eight games so far in February.
- Because of Durant and Westbrook the Thunder are usually pegged as an explosive offense. But their calling card is defense. They have held their opponents to 42 percent shooting or worse in 25 games this season, including their 105-91 win over the Clippers on Nov. 21 when L.A. shot 41.3 percent. The Thunder are 21-4 when they prevent opponents from shooting better than 42 percent. By comparison, the Clippers are 17-1 when doing so.
- Doc Rivers is always encouraging his team to play with pace. It doesn’t mean blazing up and down the floor uninhibited, but he would like them to take advantage of their speed and athleticism before allowing the opponent to pack the paint. That will be particularly important Sunday, considering the aforementioned field goal percentage stat, plus the presence of Serge Ibaka, the league’s second best shot blocker (2.53 blocks per game). Through 58 games, the Clippers are tied with Portland for the eighth fastest pace in the league, using an average of 98 possessions per game. The Thunder are right behind them, using 97.6 possessions (tenth).
The Clippers are 5-8 on national television this season, including 1-1 against the Thunder. Sunday is their first game on ABC since clinching the Pacific Division title against the Lakers on Apr. 7, 2013… The Clippers are wearing their “Back in Blue” short-sleeve alternate jerseys for the first and only time this season on the road. They are 3-1 in the regular season (4-1 overall) when wearing the baby blue uniforms, including amassing the two most lopsided blowouts in team history… Oklahoma City is 15-1 at home against Western Conference opponents… The Clippers have the third best record in intra-conference play. They have gone 20-11 against the West. Only San Antonio and Oklahoma City are better…
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Jamal Crawford: “[This part of the schedule] is not easy, that’s for sure. But it creates that atmosphere because in the Playoffs you’re not going to play any bad teams. Everybody is going to be good.”
Sam Presti: “We are all very excited to have Russell back. He has worked extremely hard throughout his rehabilitation, and his addition will allow us to build on the progress we have made in his absence. As Russell integrates back into the team we are going to manage the transition by building his minutes over time and will evaluate his availability in back-to-back situations.”
LAC: J.J. Redick (bulging disc, lower back) will miss his seventh straight game. Chris Paul (sprained right thumb) is expected to play.
OKC: Kendrick Perkins (left groin strain) is out.
REGULAR SEASON SERIES HISTORY
All-Time: 69-125 (Home: 48-50, Road: 21-75)
Road Streak: Lost 2
Largest Margin of Victory:
LAST TIME OUT