GAMEDAY REPORT: CLIPPERS VS. THUNDER - GAME #4
Round 2, Game #4 | May 11, 2014
Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES – After an opening nine minutes where next to nothing went well for the Clippers, they were seemingly on the cusp of getting back in the game the rest of the way.
The series was in the balance. Doc Rivers walked by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and said, “We’ve got time if we want to win this. We’ve got time.”
And they did just that.
Overcoming a ruinous start and early 22-point deficit, the Clippers stormed back into the game and after Darren Collison and Jamal Crawford scored seven of nine points to pull ahead for the first time, the Clippers ran away with a 101-99 victory in Game 4 at Staples Center Sunday.
They evened the series at two games apiece and head to Oklahoma City for Game 5 Tuesday night.
Collison scored 18 points off the bench, including back-to-back layups to make it 101-97. Russell Westbrook made a layup to cut the Clippers’ lead to two, and had a chance to win the game at the buzzer with a 3-pointer, but it fell astray.
Westbrook had 27 points and Kevin Durant scored 40, including going 15-of-18 from the foul line.
But a missed free throw by Durant helped open the door for another remarkable comeback for the Clippers. It was the 14th time this season they have trailed by 10 or more points and come back to win.
“We talked about: we’ve been here before, we’ve done it before,” Matt Barnes said of the comeback. “This one, going into the fourth quarter, we just kept believing and kept talking to each other and good things happened.”
They did it by scoring 35 of the final 52 points and getting contributions from an unconventional lineup of Collison, Crawford, Paul, Griffin and Danny Granger. Paul successfully guarded Durant for the duration of the stretch run and had six consecutive points to bring L.A. within six. Paul finished with 23 points and 10 assists.
“I just thought we hung in there,” Rivers said. “We searched for combinations. We went completely unconventional. We went ultra-small.”
Later, Griffin, who had 25 points and nine rebounds despite playing the entire fourth quarter with five fouls, converted a layup through a foul by Serge Ibaka that tied the game at 94. Collison and Crawford, who made two of the Clippers’ three 3-pointers, had the next seven points and the Clippers put the game away.
It starts with our whole bench. Even when we were down 20-whatever in the first quarter, everybody kept telling each other, ‘Chip away, chip away,’” Griffin said. “We're not going to do it in two minutes, four minutes, just keep chipping away. That was kind of our mentality for the rest of the game.”
They maintained that mentality in spite of a grim start.
The Thunder made their first seven shots, and put together an extended, 25-4, run to take a 22-point lead before the 3-minute mark of the opening period. The Clippers were 2-for-15 from the field before Paul and Glen Davis converted on back-to-back possessions.
And even after stringing together four consecutive defensive stops shortly after Durant left the game, the Clippers made up little ground.
They missed their first eight 3-pointers. They went 3-for-21 from 3-point range overall.
But despite their second lowest scoring quarter of the season, the Clippers came screaming back. They scored 22 points in less than six minutes of the second quarter and a 12-1 run capped by a pair of free throws by Crawford made it 39-35.
The Clippers had their most success with a small lineup that allowed Griffin to matchup with Durant defensively. After scoring 10 points in the first quarter, Durant scored just two in the four-plus minutes Griffin guarded him. The league’s MVP had 19 first-half points, but went just 5-for-14 from the field.
And even after the Clippers gained on the Thunder in the third quarter, Reggie Jackson buried a wing 3-pointer with 1.1 on the shot clock to stretch the lead back to a dozen. About three minutes later, the Clippers were down 15.
“I think we just willed this one,” Paul said. “It's a really good team. We found a way.”
The Clippers are 7-0 in Game 4s all-time when trailing a series two games to one… Magic Johnson, Floyd Mayweather, Justin Bieber, Mark Wahlberg, Baron Davis and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson were among those in attendance… Jordan had 10 or more rebounds for the seventh time this postseason… Paul surpassed Elton Brand for the most double-doubles in Clipper postseason history with seven… The Clippers outrebounded the Thunder, 45-43. It is the first time in 11 postseason games the Thunder have lost the rebounding batter to an opponent… The Clippers outscored Oklahoma City, 52-32, in the paint… Westbrook and Durant accounted for 67 of the Thunder’s 99 points…
COACH DOC RIVERS
Q. Do you have a statement you want to make or...
COACH RIVERS: I want a beer (laughter).
Q. You're down 22, down 16, you won the game. What did you learn about your team?
COACH RIVERS: I don't think I learned anything in that way. We've done this several times this year. Remember the Dallas game.
You know, it was one of those games, the game started out where we missed wide-open shot after wide-open shot, then I thought we pressed. That's how they got the stretch.
I thought before the halftime, getting it to 12, that was important for us. I just thought we hung in there. We searched for combinations. We went completely unconventional. We went ultrasmall.
We put Danny at the four. His numbers won't show it, but Danny Granger was huge for us. He kept guys from getting rebounds. I thought his length was a factor. Then obviously Jamal and DC, in that small lineup, that won the game for us. I'm not sure we ever used that lineup. But that group won the game for us tonight.
Q. Was it brilliant coaching or was Paul has to cover Durant?
COACH RIVERS: It was neither. That's called desperate coaching. You're looking for any combination.
Yesterday as a staff we said Durant was beating us with his dribble. If you put a guard on him, you could make him more of a post-up player.
Q. It clearly disrupted the way he played the game?
COACH RIVERS: He just missed shots.
Q. You're not going give Paul credit?
COACH RIVERS: No. I'll say that after Game 7.
Q. How important is it for Chris Paul to get aggressive in this series?
COACH RIVERS: Very. He's such a point guard, and in this series, the way they're guarding, he's going to have to be a scorer. We won Game 1 because he was a scorer. In Game 2, the guilty point guard, I got to get everybody involved. But he's coming off the picks open. We want him to pull up and take those shots.
In the first quarter, I was like, Let's shoot the ball. I know you're trying to get guys involved, but this may be one of those series where he's going to have to be aggressive as a scorer.
Q. With all the things that your team has had to go through this year, talk about the crowd.
COACH RIVERS: They were great. We needed anything. I think they sensed us coming back. You could definitely hear them. They were phenomenal. Good to see them rejoice, as well. But that's why you have home crowds. We go to Oklahoma City, their crowd is going to be amazing there.
Ours hung in there. They could have gone the other way and they hung in there with us.
Q. Chris was on Durant late in Game 3, and Durant got a good look. Any comments on that?
COACH RIVERS: We trapped this time. We probably should have the last time. We worked on it and we didn't do it. Tonight, whenever he got it, we sent an extra guy.
At the end of the day, Durant is going to be able to get a good look over CP, that's why we send help.
Q. You kind of beg your players to play at pace and with energy. Seemed like D.C. finally gave it --
COACH RIVERS: D.C., you don't have to tell him much as far as pace. I think the small lineup allowed D.C. to attack because there was no help at the rim. They only had one big out on the floor. We were bringing him up to the floor to set picks.
We still have to run pace. We had one in the first half where CP threw it ahead to Jamal and he got to the basket.
They're long. They're a hell of a defensive team. We can't keep walking it in and letting them set their defense. Their defense is too good.
Q. Talk about the physicality between Serge and Blake? Did you get a good look at the punch?
COACH RIVERS: You thought it was a punch?
COACH RIVERS: Okay. Mark says it was a punch. Everybody write that tomorrow (laughter).
I didn't see it. Coaches were yelling in my ear. I don't have a replay. I'm sure I'll see it.
I don't worry about all that. I love the physical play. I think they should just keep playing physical, let them play like that. If a guy throws a punch, the league will take care of it.
Q. Do you see Chris on Durant as a momentary thing, a situational thing?
COACH RIVERS: Situational. Situational. We do like it because CP's hands, he's pretty strong. But I don't like it because then you're taking a lot out of CP. That's not a matchup we are going to live with, I can tell you that.
Q. You talked about getting stops down the stretch. Touch on that.
COACH RIVERS: We really had no choice. We were down. We had to score and get stops. We did that.
I thought the trapping was great. I thought our guys did a great job. It was something we had worked on. So it allowed us to know where everybody was at.
Sometimes you trap just to make yourself aggressive. That's not why we did it, but that's actually what happened. I thought by us trapping we became more aggressive defensively, so maybe we should have done it earlier.
Q. Going into the fourth quarter, you're down 12 points, what do you tell your team that you haven't told them already about stops?
COACH RIVERS: I didn't tell them anything. I really didn't. I just told them to keep playing, hang in there. The only thing I told them was don't try to do too much.
Right at the end of the third quarter, each guy tried to do too much, you know, take a quick shot. I said, Guys, keep playing your game, don't do too much. Do what you do. Don't try to step out of that. I thought we did a good job of that. I thought we pretty much stayed pretty calm.
Q. Your largest comeback this season was 17 until tonight. How does this affect the series?
COACH RIVERS: It just makes it 2-2. It makes it an even series. Going to Oklahoma, they have home court. So now it's a three-game series for both teams and they have two at their place.
Q. Blake with foul trouble, you being able to pull him out, bring him back into the game.
COACH RIVERS: Baby was great. D.J. was great. We played Blake, I almost got away with it, a good chunk with the four fouls. But we were just down so much, you couldn't worry about anybody fouling out at that point. If he fouled out, he fouled out.
I told Blake when he went back in, Play like you have one foul, not like you have five fouls. We need you to be aggressive. I thought he did that.
Q. You talked about the Thunder having a sense of urgency because of their playoff experience. Did you feel in the first quarter your team might have been lacking that?
COACH RIVERS: No, I think we got attacked. I think they smelled blood in the water. They jumped on us. I thought we missed some great shots. J.J. is a great shooter. He missed three point-blank ones, Chris missed one. Then I thought we started pressing, and that allowed their force to take hold, and it did.
How critical is it for your team to match Oklahoma's intensity in Game 5?
COACH RIVERS: We better. They're at home. They're seething right now. They had an opportunity to go up 3-1 and now it's an even series.
We were almost on the mat and we got off of it. We didn't get pinned. We're back up and now we're all even.
Q. Very efficient on offense. A lot of that was transition. When you weren't in transition, what was working?
COACH RIVERS: We found a set. Over on the bench, we were sitting there looking at all my play calls. We finally stumbled on one. It's one we've run a lot. With the small lineup, Blake being the only big, with his athleticism, you can't switch it. You can punish it. If you don't switch it, CP is going down the paint.
With Jamal, all the shooting on the floor, it made it difficult for them to score.
I also thought we trusted down the stretch. Even if we though were running the set, if the option wasn't there we went to the second option. We didn't try to do it ourselves. Like I said at the beginning of that quarter, Don't press, do what you do, don't try to overdo it. Just trust.
Q. Do you feel Collison disrupted them defensively?
COACH RIVERS: Yeah, a couple times he overpressured Westbrook, which is the last thing we wanted him to do. Once Westbrook gets his shoulders in front of you, he's a locomotive going down the train tracks. Other than that, he was phenomenal.
Our thought was get up in pressure, see how many seconds you can use before they get in their set. I thought that was big for us because instead of them starting their offense with 22, they were starting it at 14. That allowed us to trap. Then there's not enough time to swing the ball.
Q. It seems as if you're okay with Russell beating you rather than KD.
COACH RIVERS: No, I'm not okay with it, to be honest. It's funny. You were going to say, Seems like you're letting him. I look at it that way, too. He's very aggressive, playing well right now. We have to do a better job.
What we're not doing is trapping him. We're playing him with one-on-one defense. But he's hurting us. He's playing very well.
COACH SCOTT BROOKS
COACH BROOKS: It was a very physical basketball game. After 48 minutes, both teams are definitely going to feel all the bumps and bruises, need a lot of ice packs.
But I thought when you're both fighting for something special, that's going to happen. There were times where guys got tangled up. Russell, Blake, Serge even in the beginning of the play. Perk pushes Serge and hits Blake.
But that's what it is right now. We're both very competitive. We're both competing for a big prize. That's expected.
But I liked how we played, with a lot of determination. We could have done a better job of getting through our spots in that fourth quarter.
Offensively we kind of bogged down a little bit. But then again defensively the 38 points in the fourth quarter is something that we pride ourselves on.
But you got to give them credit, they stepped up when they were down. They scrambled and made a bunch of big shots.
I thought Collison came in and played big minutes. 10 or 12 points. They needed every bucket he provided.
Q. Obviously Doc put Chris Paul on Kevin in the fourth quarter. Why wasn't Kevin able to make them pay a little bit more?
COACH BROOKS: That's something we'll look at in the film. Kevin was having trouble getting the catches. I'll be able to give better information tomorrow. But it was physical out there. I'll just say that. It was physical. But we have to do a better job of getting him open, freeing him up.
There was some physical play going on in that fourth quarter.
Q. The offense stagnated the last nine minutes. Defense got virtually no stops. Which was the bigger problem?
COACH BROOKS: The bigger problem is the defense, 38 points. We take a lot of pride in what we do defensively. When they were down, they played with a lot of desperation. They were able to spread us out. I think Griffin got 10 points, Paul got 10 points. D.C. got 10 or 12 points. Everybody got involved in their offense.
Defensively we have to do a much better job.
Q. As far as the foul trouble that occurred, both teams, but Blake was held out for quite a while, yet he comes in and obtained the victory. Talk about the foul trouble.
COACH BROOKS: Well, that's part of it. That's part of the game. One, you have to play through it, not worry about it. That's why both teams have 13 active players. You have to be ready to use them all.
Foul trouble, I mean, it's something we don't worry about. Might adjust your minutes here and there. The physicality of the game, that's what this is about right now. This is the second season that we're all fighting for every possession.
They made a lot of big plays down the stretch. I thought Griffin was really a big factor down the stretch. They got to the free-throw line, layup opportunities, hit some threes.
Q. Talk about the ups and downs of Russ offensively in the fourth quarter.
COACH BROOKS: Yeah, I thought when we had some opportunities -- well, we turned it over too many times. I thought that was a big opportunity for them to create transition points. We were having trouble getting the ball to KD. We have some actions where we have to utilize the space on the floor and continue to attack. I thought he had some good attacks. I thought he could have got to the free-throw line even more. That's something we have to continue to look at and build our offensive package with.
We have to do a better job of getting defensive stops. 38 in the fourth quarter is too many.
Q. You talked about the boost Collison gave them offensively. Did the small lineup disrupt you on the defensive end?
COACH BROOKS: We still had 24 points. I thought we could have got some better looks in the fourth quarter offensively. But the defense, they gave us some problems. They were making some shots, spreading us out. They were playing at a high level in the fourth quarter.
You have to have all five guys locked in, not only physically, but mentally engaged, playing off one another. When one guy moves, four other guys need to move. If you don't do that, you're in trouble. Very talented team, just like we are.
Q. You led most of the way, then lost. Any concern about bouncing back from this?
COACH BROOKS: That's the ups and downs of a playoff. The way we look at it, we're 2-2. We have two games at home. Best-of-three series with two games at home.
We're not focused on Game 6 or Game 7, we're focused on Game 5. That's what we do. We're going to figure out how we could have gotten better, how we can get better going into the next game, make some adjustments, put all of our attention and focus on Game 5.
Have a good day.
CHRIS PAUL: Just tried to make it as tough as possible for him. Still finished with 40. Just tried to crowd him.
Q. Chris, you have had some pretty big comeback victories this year. This is the playoffs. Where does this rank? How terrific was it for you guys?
CHRIS PAUL: This is one of the best ones yet. We got off to a very slow start. Even there in the fourth quarter, we could have relaxed, you know, gave in at any point.
I think we just willed this one. It's a really good team. We found a way. Darren Collison was amazing today. If you see us during the game, probably saw me going nuts on him a couple times there at the end. You take the good with the bad.
I don't think I've ever had a relationship with somebody like I have with D.C. because we both push each other and motivate each other. Maybe because I was a rookie with him in New Orleans. You just got to love a guy like that who plays with so much heart and never gives up.
Game ball goes to Darren Collison.
Q. Chris, you were able to break out there towards the end. How are you able to do that in the playoffs when everything slows down so much?
CHRIS PAUL: That's one thing that Doc stays on me a lot. Keep the pace. Keep the pace. It's one thing we struggled with all season long. If you see, when other teams score at times, we try to put our head down and see whose fault it was.
Tonight we kept going, tried to chip away. It worked tonight.
Q. Doc says one of the reasons he doesn't like you on Durant for more than moments at a time is because it takes so much out of you physically. How much harder is that matchup?
CHRIS PAUL: I mean, it's tough. He was the MVP for a reason, you know what I mean. Early in this game when things weren't going right, I went onto Doc and said, Might be 48 minutes tonight. KD is a great scorer. I don't know. It's tough at times 'cause you try and defend him as well as trying to be aggressive offensively.
Same thing I went through last series. At the end of the day you just got to do whatever it takes to win.
Q. Chris, this was your biggest comeback of the year. What type of momentum does it give you heading into Tuesday's game?
CHRIS PAUL: I mean, at the end of the day we're going to start that game off 0-0. We're going into their place. I think we got to bring that same energy and mindset, not the one we started off with, but just understanding that sometimes you just got to impose your will, just play hard.
Q. Darren, a lot of what provides success for this team is defense. In the end it seemed offense was more important. Did one lead to the other in this victory?
DARREN COLLISON: Definitely one led to another. Seemed like all game long, we wasn't making it hard for them, wasn't giving them enough resistance. We finally made a lot of plays on the defensive end, got the offense going.
That's what it is all series long. Whatever team plays the more physical or has more defensive stops throughout the stretch is going to win the game. I thought we did that today.
Q. Blake, in the regular season you were down big multiple times and came back to win. What does it say about your team that you were able to do it with your season on the line?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: It starts with our whole bench. Even when we were down 20-whatever in the first quarter, everybody kept telling each other, Chip away, chip away. We're not going to do it in two minutes, four minutes, just keep chipping away. That was kind of our mentality for the rest of the game.
We just kept fighting.
Q. Darren, can you talk about going up against a guy that you went to school with, what that was like. Was there a back and forth, maybe you said something to him in the fourth quarter?
DARREN COLLISON: Huh (smiling)?
It was great competing. We was both competing out there. We've been doing it for a very long time. He's a great competitor. I'm a great competitor. Nothing was said. We were just going out there and competing.
Q. Blake, with the play early in the game with Ibaka, do you think there was something more there or do you think it was an accident?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: I don't know. I really don't know. I can't get into his head. I'm not going to try, so...
Q. Blake, this is your biggest comeback this season. What type of momentum does this give you Tuesday?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: Hopefully we kind of remember what got us this win. It was our rotations defensively. It was the way we were talking, the way we believed, the way we moved the ball. The ball just found an open man on offense. We weren't trying to force anything down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Hopefully we carry that momentum, not necessarily just the excitement but just the momentum of how we were playing and things that made us successful.
Q. How does this rate amongst the gutsiest wins you've ever been a part of?
DARREN COLLISON: This is up there. We've had wins like this throughout the season. We've been here before. Doc has been telling us all series long, It's a long game. We stuck with it. The good thing about it is that even though we didn't play well throughout the game, we was able to get a win. That feels more impressive than anything we did.
BLAKE GRIFFIN: It's right up there. I remember two years ago, Game 1 in Memphis, we were down 20-something in the fourth quarter and came back. This is right up there with it, just because of the circumstances. It's an obvious thing, but 3-1 compared to 2-2 is a huge, huge difference.
Nothing really else to say.
Q. Blake, Doc said with five fouls, he told you to play like you had one. How did you focus at the game at hand?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: Tried not to think about it. After Game 1 in the series with Golden State, I was in foul trouble, ended up fouling out. I think I was too tentative and didn't play aggressive enough. Doc told me that after Game 1.
Going back in in the fourth quarter, I tried to be aggressive, not avoid foul trouble, really keep playing the same way. It turned out to work out.
Q. Darren, a couple times you had a three and you pump faked, came in, drove. How are you able to fight the temptation?
DARREN COLLISON: Yeah, I mean, we had a lot of good opportunities to shoot the three ball, especially when Chris is creating. When the game is that close, you want to make sure you have good shot selections. They was able (indiscernible) the pump fake. A lot of times I could have shot the three, but I wanted to make sure we had good shot selection.
I feel that ignites their offense in transition. I thought we had a lot of shots in the paint, which is good for us.
Q. The lineup you closed the game with is basically one that hasn't played a lot together all season, especially with Danny out there. What was successful about that lineup? Why did it work?
DARREN COLLISON: I think on the offensive end, we was able to space the floor. OKC do a good job of packing in the paint. When Blake rolls, it puts pressure on their defense. CP was able to make the right plays, we had shooters outside.
I thought our rotation was good. That's probably the best rotation we had all year along especially when KD gets it going, was able to double-team him. Our rotation was pretty solid.
Q. What did it feel like being out there in that fourth quarter as you're coming back like that? Did you have a sense it was building toward what you were able to do?
DARREN COLLISON: Yeah. It felt good to be out there. The whole time I'm thinking, We can't be down 3-1, we just can't be down 3-1 going to Oklahoma. For us, just battling, continue to fight, tying the series up, definitely momentum for us.
Q. Blake, you have been solid offensively for a while, last couple years. Doc coming in, what did it mean to you all as a team have him kind of try to just build upon what you were already doing offensively, to pick up the pace instead of trying to change everything?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: The things he talks about with our offense, I remember early on when I first met with him, he said, I truly believe if the coaches didn't come in, you guys could win 50 games on your own. But if we really trust and really buy in, really believe in what they're teaching us, we rely on our offense, not just trying to out-shoot people, rely on our defense, then we're going to be successful.
That's kind of the mindset. Keep the ball moving, keep doing what we do on offense, but defensively I think is the biggest change this year to years past.
Q. When you're down 22 points, playing horribly, could you have imagined at that time you would have ended up winning this game against that team?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: It is tough. But that was early. That was in the first quarter. Started to come back a little bit in the second quarter.
Like I said, I've been a part of games where we were down 25, 27, I can't remember what it was, and we still came back and won.
Especially early on, you can't just hang your head and throw in the towel at that point. You just got to keep chipping away, like we said, and good things will happen.
Q. Darren, this off-season you had opportunities to play other places, took less money to be here. Was it to be in situations like this?
DARREN COLLISON: Without a doubt. I just felt like, you know, being in a winning situation will elevate my game on so many different levels. It's paid dividends all season long. I texted BG. I want to come here regardless about the financial reasons. I didn't care who was on the team. I thought this team had a good shot of competing for a championship.
I want to put myself in that position. It's hard sacrificing, you know what I mean, but I made the sacrifice, I'm here, and I'm happy I made the right decision. Playing with these guys, it's a great group of guys to play with. I'm glad I made that sacrifice.
Q. Blake, describe the last play. Seems you went a little early, like eight seconds. Describe what you saw there, what you were thinking.
BLAKE GRIFFIN: The play that I missed the layup on (smiling)?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: Honestly, I didn't know exactly what the shot clock was at. When D.C. caught it and drove, kind of pump faked it and hit me, I wasn't sure. I just knew I didn't want to get a shot clock violation and give them a chance to take the ball out.
I probably rushed it a little bit. It's my fault that I put us in that situation. But hopefully I'll learn from it.
CLIPPERS GUARD JAMAL CRAWFORD
RE: Overall thoughts on tonight’s game
“Doc [Rivers] told us to keep believing in our teammates. Everybody played a part [from] Big Baby [Glen Davis] to DJ [DeAndre Jordan], to J.J. [Redick], to everybody that was on the sideline… Willie Green. It was a total team effort. Even guys that didn’t come in the game were locked in. We’re all pulling for each other in the right direction. This was a huge win, but we can’t do it without our fans and the support they showed tonight.”
RE: Staying focused while facing 22 point deficit
“We really locked in on defense. We were down 22 at one point, and we kept believing and never gave up. We refused to lose. It was a big time win. I’m not sure that win happens on the road. Like I said, the crowd was terrific tonight, and they played a huge part.”
RE: Small lineup at the end of the fourth quarter
“We had to give them a different look. That’s the thing about our team. I think we’re built for anything. We can go big. We can go small. We can play a lot of different ways, and tonight that’s the way it worked for us.”
CLIPPERS GUARD J.J. REDICK
RE: Small lineup at the end of the fourth quarter
“Yeah, I think it [caused some turnovers]. There were probably three or four plays where [our] guys got in passing lanes on a double team, [their] guys were trying to do a little too much, maybe. That led to easy buckets for us, transition buckets for us; and that helped us get back in the game.”
RE: Effect of this win on the series overall
“They kicked our ass in Game 3 and for the majority of Game 4, they kicked our butts. I don’t believe in momentum in a series. If there was any momentum…we beat the crap out of them in Game 1, so it’s been kind of a crazy series. It’s a three game set from here on out, and we’ve got to find a way to win two.”
CLIPPERS FORWARD GLEN DAVIS
RE: Ability to overcome a large deficit
“I think as a team, we need to truly understand what we’re trying to play for. I’ve been a part of a championship team, and the engine has to be running before you hit the floor. Every moment, every second counts; and for us to fight back from down 22 at one point [is] unbelievable; heart of a champion.”
RE: Play of Darren Collison
“He [Darren Collison]’s doing what he does best, and that’s score the ball. We needed a boost, a lift, somebody to come out of nowhere and give us something; and he did it. That’s what it’s all about. We’re a team. No one guy is going to win this thing. Each night is a different guy’s time to shine, and tonight was D.C.’s time to shine.”
Q. KD, you were able to get good looks in the first 36 minutes of the game. What changed the last 12 minutes?
KEVIN DURANT: Nothing. Scored in the fourth.
Q. You had 35 in the first. What did the Clippers do? How did they contain you?
KEVIN DURANT: Didn't do nothing. They tried to double-team. It was our defense. Offensively we were good.
Q. Russell, this is a victory most of us on press row thought you had. How tough is this going to be to get past?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: It's a tough loss, but it's a series, man. It ain't like we going home. It's 2-2. We'll go back home and take care of business.
Q. Russ, can you talk about going up against Collison, the UCLA connection. Was there a back and forth between you guys in the fourth quarter?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Darren is a good player, did a great job for his team and their unit.
He had a good game today.
Q. Russ, can you talk about that look you had at the end.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: It was a good look. Obviously we didn't have no more timeouts to call one. But I thought it was a good look. Just didn't go in.
Q. Talk about the defense, giving up 38 in the fourth.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: We got to get back. Gave up too many layups. They got too many easy baskets, especially when we had the lead. We'll look at film and see what happened.
Q. What challenge does Chris Paul present?
KEVIN DURANT: He doesn't. It's not a one-on-one. When I catch the ball, they sent in a double-team. When they sent the double-team, they did a good job of crowding me, making me get rid of the ball.
When it's one-on-one, I got the advantage.
Q. Scott talked about the physical play, the nature of the game. Is that a factor? Do you like that?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: No. We just played the most physical team in basketball, Memphis, a series ago. Definitely it's not a factor.
Q. Kevin, how deflating can a loss like this be or is it something you can let go of and take care of business?
KEVIN DURANT: It's a three-game series now. Of course, we let this one slip away. We could have took control of the series.
We go home. It's not guaranteed we win at home. But we came here and got a W just like they came in our house and got a W. Tied up. Two games at home, so...
We got to take advantage of this opportunity.
Q. After seeing what happened tonight, how important is it that you have home-court advantage?
KEVIN DURANT: Any team can win at home. We just got to play the game. I think we play with that intensity we had the first, what, 43 minutes of the game, then we got a solid chance.
Q. Kevin, how does this loss compare to any other loss you've experienced? How angry are you about what happened today?
KEVIN DURANT: Every loss is tough to swallow. We got to have a quick turnaround. We got our next game in a couple days, so...
We got to turn the page quickly. Can't get too high off of wins and too low off of losses. Got to figure out what we did wrong, get better at it in Game 5.
THUNDER GUARD THABO SEFOLOSHA
RE: Whether the team will be affected by losing a large lead
“Not with the team that we have. We’re playing well, we played well for most of the game, and things happen. It’s the playoffs. We’re playing against a very good team, we understand that, and we’re going to focus on us and come back ready.”
RE: Problems with fourth quarter offense
“I think the ball got sticky a little bit. We were looking for the matchup a little bit too much instead of just running the offense, and that kind of took us out of rhythm.”
THUNDER CENTER KENDRICK PERKINS
RE: Problems down the stretch
“We’ve got to have a better sense of urgency down the stretch, mentally. We didn’t get any stops down the stretch in the fourth quarter. I still don’t know how we had a lot of careless turnovers in the fourth. We’ve just got to be better closing out games. It’s a golden opportunity we had right in our hands and we’re supposed to make it happen.”
RE: Problems with fourth quarter defense
“There wasn’t any communication, any sense of urgency. We got too relaxed. I don’t really know if our schemes were working because we weren’t doing them right, so I can’t really say we need to change up anything because we weren’t doing what we’re supposed to be doing from the jump.”
THUNDER GUARD REGGIE JACKSON
RE: Problems with fourth quarter defense
“They shot the easiest shot in basketball and they shot it uncontested. They got a bunch of layups. That’s it, whether it was transition layups or half-court layups. Layups, for us, that’s uncalled for. We’d rather put somebody in the ground than have that. They just shot uncontested layups. Effort, that’s all it is.”
RE: Clippers’ success with Chris Paul guarding Kevin Durant
“I don’t know [how]. I really can’t answer that. We’ve just got to find ways to get [Kevin Durant] open shots. We’ve got to punish them for doing that, for making a call such as putting Chris Paul on KD [Kevin Durant]. We’ve got to punish them for it. Size difference. Everybody sees it. We’ve got to find ways to get him the ball easier and if they double, just make him pay.”
Game 4 could be the difference between a long series and a short one.
As the Clippers take on the Thunder Sunday afternoon in the fourth game of their best-of-seven series, they are trying to avoid going back to Oklahoma City with a three games to one deficit. It comes just days after capturing home-court advantage with a blowout victory in Game 1.
The Thunder responded with consecutive victories, and left Clippers head coach looking to adjust.
“Obviously, you don’t want to recreate the wheel, you don’t’ want to do a lot of changes,” Rivers said. “There are a couple things we have to do in pick-and-roll coverage to improve.”
The Clippers have given up at least 112 points in each of the last two games, something they had allowed in successive games since February.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
1. Transition. The Clippers were second in the NBA in fast-break points (18.6 per game) in the regular season, but have been limited in the series. They have not scored more than 14 points in transition in any of the three games against the Thunder due in large part to Oklahoma City shooting a high percentage from the field. They have shot 45.6 percent or better in all three games, including topping 50 percent in the last two.
“It’s hard because we keep taking the ball [out of the net],” Jamal Crawford said. “When we get stops we can run and play to our strengths.”
2. Must-win game? Technically, a must-win game only comes when a team is facing elimination. But Sunday is as close as any other time. A loss would put the Clippers in a 1-3 hole and needing to win twice on the road to advance.
“It puts us in a tough hole,” said Blake Griffin, who has scored 32 points or more three times in 10 postseason games in 2014. “I mean, [we’ve] got to even the series up. We went there and got one. Obviously, they got one here.
“It’s not a must-win in terms of if you lose you go home, but that’s the way it should be in our minds.”
3. The “other” guys. In the last two games for the Thunder some combination of Reggie Jackson, Caron Butler, Thabo Sefolosha or Kendrick Perkins have supplemented their scoring alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The so-called “other guys” have swung the series in favor of the Oklahoma City.
“I’m sure that’s something we’ll talk about,” Chris Paul said. “We’re used to seeing those guys (Durant and Westbrook) put up a lot of shots, but they’ve found a way to get their teammates involved.”
The Clippers, meanwhile, have not gotten the same kind of production outside of Paul and Griffin since they had four players with 20 points or more in Game 1. J.J. Redick had just five points in Game 3 and outside of Crawford, the bench has been held relatively in check.
The Clippers are 6-0 in their previous six Game 4s when trailing a series 1-2… Through the first 10 games of the NBA Playoffs, Durant is averaging 30.2 points per game (second highest postseason scoring average of his career), bringing his career playoff scoring average to the fourth best in NBA playoff history. Durant has registered seven 30+ point games during the 2014 Playoffs (as many as any other two players combined)… The Clippers are 3-4 against the Thunder this season, including splitting the regular season series… The Clippers have made 98 3-pointers in the postseason…
LAC: Hedo Turkoglu (back) is out.
OKC: None reported.
THE LAST WORD
Jamal Crawford: “I think rebounding and giving them second-chance opportunities [have to change]. Our half-court defense has been pretty good. We get stops and they come flying in and get extra opportunities.”
PLAYOFF SERIES RECAP
Game 1: May 5, 2014 at Chesapeake Energy Arena: Clippers 122, Thunder 105
Game 2: May 7, 2014 at Chesapeake Energy Arena: Thunder 112, Clippers 101
Game 3: May 9, 2014 at Staples Center: Thunder 118, Clippers 112
Game 4: May 11, 2014 at Staples Center
Game 5: May 13, 2014 at Chesapeake Energy Arena
Game 6*: May 15, 2014 at Staples Center
Game 7*: May 18, 2014 at Chesapeake Energy Arena