CLIPS WITHIN 5 DESPITE FIRST-HALF SHOOTING WOES
LOS ANGELES – Doc Rivers said prior to Wednesday’s showdown between the Clippers and Thunder that rebounding would likely be the game’s most telling factor.
The Clippers rebounded the ball just fine in the first half, owning a two-board advantage, but it was their shooting that betrayed them over the first 20 minutes.
As the Thunder built a 15-point lead, the Clippers hovered around 33 percent from the field, but they rallied in the waning minutes of the second quarter and trailed, 59-54, after Hedo Turkoglu drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing with 2.9 seconds to go.
Turkoglu’s shot propelled the Clippers into the locker room on a 7-2 run that included a finger roll by Chris Paul and a lob from Paul to DeAndre Jordan.
Paul finished with 10 points and five assists in the half, while Jordan had seven points and six rebounds, including a baseline dunk over Serge Ibaka off a dish from Matt Barnes. Turkoglu had eight off the bench.
Blake Griffin had 18 points matching Russell Westbrook for the first-half high. A dozen of Griffin’s points came in the first quarter. But he made four of the Clippers’ seven field goals in the period.
They shot 7-for-23 to open the game, including missing their first six 3-pointers. They committed four turnovers and allowed Oklahoma City to put together a 10-0 run after Griffin’s jumper tied the game at 19. Still, the Clippers hung around early by converting 10 of their 15 free throws.
Oklahoma City shot 47.8 percent in the first half, but MVP candidate Kevin Durant was just 4-for-13. Durant, Westbrook, Griffin and Paul, the perennial All-Stars, scored 40 of the game’s first 44 points.
Note: the Houston Rockets lost to the Denver Nuggets earlier Wednesday, meaning a Clippers win will clinch at least the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.