FIRST 43 MINUTES OF GAME 5 OFFER A LOT TO DRAW ON
PLAYA VISTA – For 43 minutes on Tuesday, the Clippers were executing with the kind of precision that Doc Rivers and his staff have sought all season.
“We did things that I jokingly say, ‘That’s like coaching camp material,’” Rivers said before practice Wednesday. “We did a lot of that in the beginning of the game. That tells you that it’s in us.”
The Clippers scored 34 points in the first quarter and opened up a lead as large as 13 late in the fourth quarter in Game 5 Tuesday. It was the final four-plus minutes that did them in, leading to an improbable 105-104 loss to Thunder.
“Our transition D broke down,” Rivers added. “We did a lot of things down the stretch with our trust and what we’ve done all year. It really came back to haunt us down the stretch of the game.”
But heading into a do-or-die Game 6 at home, the Clippers may be able to draw on what worked for the majority of one of their finest all-around performances of the year. They held Kevin Durant in check, forcing the MVP to miss 14 of his first 17 shots. They got 15 points or more from five players, including 24 from Blake Griffin. They seemingly got everything they wanted, or needed, offensively.
“We played great basketball,” Rivers said. “I wish we could turn that five minutes off, but we can’t. But what we can do is really focus on the 43 minutes. We did a lot of good things. Matt [Barnes] had a super defensive game last night. I thought our ball movement in the first quarter alone was as good as it has been the entire season.”
Griffin said, “We played the way we’ve been talking about playing and how we’ve gone over it in shootaround and walkthroughs.”
Following the game, the team held a brief meeting on the flight back to Los Angeles.
“On the plane we had a little impromptu meeting,” Rivers said. “I told them, ‘Listen, it doesn’t matter. It’s 3-2, you’ve got to go win at home and then go win on the road.’ I said that’s got to be our focus.”
It was a chance to get headed in the right direction with less than 48 hours until their must-win Game 6 tips off.
“He came up and talked about kind of the situation and what we had to do,” Griffin said of Rivers. “He said we were going to watch film. We have to learn from our mistakes and move on. That was pretty much it. It wasn’t anything crazy.”