GAMEDAY REPORT: CLIPPERS VS. THUNDER - 11/21/13
Game #13 | November 21, 2013
Chesapeake Energy Arena | Oklahoma City, OK
OKLAHMOA CITY – There is a general feeling when good teams are struggling to score the ball or there’s a wide disparity of free throws in a game that it often will balance out. Eventually.
It didn’t Thursday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Clippers, in the second game of a road back-to-back, were outshot from the field and the foul line, and lost wire-to-wire, 105-91, to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The game was a rematch of the Clippers’ eight-point win in Los Angeles last week. And while the Clippers (8-5) buried Oklahoma City (8-3) with an extended third-quarter run eight days ago, they had no such spurt Thursday.
“They did a pretty good job,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said of his team. “They kept fighting back, but it’s tough when you stay in a hole and you fight back and then they go up 10 again. It’s exhausting. It was just one of those nights.”
Blake Griffin scored 27 points with 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Chris Paul extended his NBA record of consecutive points-assists double-doubles to 13, scoring 17 points with 12 assists. And Jamal Crawford scored 18 off the bench.
But the Clippers did not make a field goal for nearly four minutes to open the game, attempted 14 fewer foul shots, were outshot by more than 10 percent from the field by the Thunder and allowed a game-high 28 points to NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant.
Still, at halftime they found themselves down just eight. It felt like 20.
Unlike the Clippers’ win a night earlier in Minnesota, the loss to Oklahoma City was less about runs than an inability to get stops. They’d cut Oklahoma City’s lead to seven or six but inevitably the Thunder would stretch it back out.
“We never really had moments where we got stops and scored,” said Griffin, who was playing in his hometown for the sixth time as a professional. “It was like we’d score and they’d score or we got some stops but they got stops or we didn’t come down and execute. You can’t have both. You’ve got to put together one or the other.”
They used a 7-0 run towards the end of the second quarter to shave a 13-point deficit to six. It came after Paul was whistled for a flagrant foul penalty-1 as he contested a layup by Thabo Sefolosha. With the Thunder in sight, the Clippers had three chances to move even closer. They never did.
A similar stretch in the second half would be their undoing. Griffin scored 14 consecutive points in the third quarter, using an array of moves from spot-up jumpers, to spinning layups and jump hooks. It appeared Griffin, who started the game with just six points in the first half, was poised to lead a comeback. But the Thunder seemingly responded with a basket every time Griffin scored.
“We hung around,” forward Jared Dudley said. “We had our chances in the third quarter and the fourth quarter, down seven, down six, down eight, down seven. The key is, you hope that you go on a run and we never went on that 12-2 run or anything like that.”
The Thunder lead ballooned to as large as 15 in the fourth and Rivers pulled Griffin and Paul with 1:49 to go.
Rivers still views his team in a developmental stage. He was adamant after the game that he’s seen positive signs in a defense that allowed 58 points in the paint and never gave up fewer than 23 points in a single quarter Thursday.
“I’m hoping for six or eight weeks from now our defense will allow us to stay in the game,” Rivers said. “From the first quarter you could see we didn’t have it offensively, everybody was kind of missing shots and didn’t have any rhythm. When we don’t have any pace from anybody you know that’s not a good sign.
“We gave ourselves a fighting chance so that’s what you want when things aren’t going well, but what I want to get to, though, is to be able to win a game against a great team when you don’t have your game and I thought we had a chance to do that tonight, but we kind of let go of the rope.”
Matt Barnes has successful surgery in Los Angeles Thursday night to repair a retinal tear in his left eye. He is out for a minimum of two weeks … A Thunder fan made a half-court bank shot to win $20,000 during a second-quarter timeout… Griffin has 29 points in the last two third quarters combined… The Clippers assisted on 26 of their 38 made baskets… Rookie Reggie Bullock played the second most minutes off the bench in relief of Barnes. He scored five points with two rebounds… All-Star Russell Westbrook was held in check most of the night. He had 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting… The Clippers are 1-5 when scoring fewer than 104 points… Griffin has 100 career 20-10 games and has tallied six in a row, matching the second longest streak of his career. He tallied 14 20-10 games his rookie season…
|Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on his overall assessment of the game:
“They had three days to prepare, they were into it early we just couldn’t get it going early on. Our defense let us down by the end, but at halftime I thought it was still more of our offense. The way we played the last couple games with our ball movement was gone tonight and we never established any pace up the floor we were walking it up. It may have had something to do with last night’s game, but I don’t know that for sure it was just disappointing.”
|Clippers forward Blake Griffin on the lack of foul shot disparity:
“I thought we drew a lot of contact. We just didn’t go. Some nights your just not going to go as much. We probably could be a little more aggressive but I thought that there were several plays where we were aggressive and we got contact and tried to finish and didn’t really get much. But that happens.”
|Clippers forward Jared Dudley on why he felt the team fell short:
“We all missed a lot of easy shots that we’d normally make. But defensively that Westbrook and Durant screen-and-roll really hurt us.”
|Thunder forward Kevin Durant on whether or not Thursday was the most satisfying win of the season:
“No we aren’t satisfied with anything, it was a good win against a really good team, especially since they beat us the last game but we’ve got to move on from it.”
|Clippers guard Chris Paul on the team’s level of comfort in their new system:
“We’re still building. Our record says 8-5, but you know, we’re not making any excuses but we’ve had a tough schedule. So far we’ve had a tough schedule. We won a few here and lost a few there, but we still feel good about what we bring.”
By: Ben Haber | Follow @HaberBen
Several early-season tests have allowed the Clippers to gauge their progress from the outset, and it only gets tougher playing at the Oklahoma City Thunder’s loud Chesapeake Energy Arena.
It’s the second time in eight days the Clippers (8-4) look to silence the Thunder, after a 111-103 victory at Staples Center last week.
They come into Oklahoma City coming off a four-point win against the Minnesota Timberwolves to start their brief two-game road trip; headlined by Chris Paul tallying 20 points, 11 assists and six steals. Paul delivered in the clutch, scoring 16 of the Clippers’ final 21 points.
The Thunder (7-3) haven’t stepped onto the hardwood for game action since Monday. In that contest, Kevin Durant dropped 38 points to guide Oklahoma City to a 115-113 comeback victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Suiting up on back-to-back nights can present problems for most NBA teams. The Clippers have played two back-to-backs this season, sweeping one and getting swept in the other. On Nov. 6-7, they came up short versus the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat on the road.
Chris Paul vs. Russell Westbrook
Paul and Westbrook are two of the best point guards in the NBA, but they get the job done in completely different ways. In the offseason survey of NBA general managers, Paul was named the top player at the position, receiving 70 percent of the 29 possible votes (general managers were not allowed to pick players from their own teams). Paul was also recognized as the best passer and for displaying the highest basketball IQ. Conversely, those areas are not Westbrook’s strong suits. The main strength for Westbrook would be his freakish athleticism, falling short of only LeBron James, according to the GMs. Once Westbrook gets into the open court, good luck trying to slow him down. His combination of strength and speed are unprecedented.
Westbrook had two knee surgeries prior to the 2013-14 campaign to repair a torn meniscus and then remove a loose stitch that was left over from the initial surgery. He has showed no signs of rust or ill effects. As the sidekick to Durant, Westbrook posts averages of 22.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists.
The tactician (Paul) against the walking highlight reel (Westbrook) makes for one of the most intriguing head-to-head showdowns. Paul and Westbrook direct traffic for their respective teams and the better signal caller may be the deciding factor.
THINGS TO WATCH
1. Physicality. The perceived hostility between the Clippers and Thunder took another turn on Nov. 13. Blake Griffin and Serge Ibaka got tangled up, which led to a shoving match between Matt Barnes and Ibaka. Griffin was assessed with a technical foul and Barnes and Ibaka were ejected. Ibaka’s absence helped the Clippers pullout their eight-point win. He will be back in the lineup Thursday. However, Barnes is not with the team because of a left eye contusion.
"It’s going to be a tough game. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a heated, chippy game,” DeAndre Jordan said.
Between the close competition and the apparent mutual dislike, there will by plenty of physical play. In the previous contest, the Thunder were without their starting front line for the majority of the night. Kendrick Perkins was not with the team due to the death of his grandfather and Ibaka was forced to watch from the locker room. Both big men will be back on Thursday.
2. Adjustments. The Clippers and Thunder turned the ball over 22 times each in the Nov. 13 go around. Neither Rivers nor Thunder head coach Scott Brooks expect to see that many mistakes again.
Rivers saw the miscues come up again sporadically against the Timberwolves.
“Our turnovers, there weren’t a lot (but) they killed us,” Rivers said. “The first quarter I think we had nine. That let them in the game. Every one of our turnovers seemed like it was converted into a layup for them, or a three.”
Both sides could make numerous adjustments. The Clippers are going to need to connect more often from deep, after going 6-for-28 last time. Paul went 0-for-6 from and Jared Dudley shot 1-for-5.
For the Thunder, rebounding was arguably their most obvious reason for losing. Griffin, Jordan and the rest of the Clippers hauled in 50 boards compared to the Thunder’s 35. That could change with Ibaka and Perkins back on the floor.
Barnes will remain sidelined because of a left eye contusion… Griffin has 99 career 20-point, 10-rebound games dating back to his rookie season of 2010-11. It’s the most in the NBA in that span… The Clippers are 3-3 on the road…. The Thunder defeated the Clippers 117-111 in overtime during last season’s only game at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Nov. 12, 2012…
THEY SAID IT
Blake Griffin: “We’ve got to come out aggressive and we got to play defense. [The Thunder] can obviously score in volume quickly. We’ve got to be greedy and we’ve got to want it for 48 minutes.”
LAST TIME OUT