PRACTICE REPORT: THUNDER ARE ‘STILL HUNGRY’
BEVERLY HILLS – With Game 4 less than 24 hours away, the Clippers and Thunder have swapped roles.
After the Clippers won in Oklahoma City in Game 1 to gain control of the series, the Thunder faced the prospect of winning at least one game on the road to reclaim home-court advantage. They did that Friday night, sending the Clippers to a 118-112 defeat at Staples Center.
“We wanted to bounce back in Game 2 and I think we did a great job of doing that,” former Clipper Caron Butler said Saturday morning at practice. “We wanted to come here and obviously regain home-court, but we’re still hungry.”
Kendrick Perkins added: “We are just being greedy. It’s about not being comfortable and satisfied. It’s still a long series.”
The Thunder have adjusted to a Game 1 onslaught that saw the Clippers shoot 51.7 percent from 3-point range and lead by as many as 29 points. They made 15 shots from behind the arc in that game, but have made just 16 in the two games since.
“After we lost the first game, we came back in practice and we watched the film session,” Serge Ibaka said. “We learned how to play against them. I think that was the key.”
Still, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks thinks to take a 3-1 lead in the series, Oklahoma City has to get better on defense.
“As you go on, [you can improve] a lot of the defensive coverages, pick-and-roll coverage can always get better,” Brooks said. “But they do have one of the best pick-and-roll players in the game, but we have to find ways to get better at that. We have to find ways to close out to their 3-point shooters. I know they lost a lot of threes in that second half, but maybe 11 of them is too many. Maybe we can cut down two or three of those.”
The Clippers have been outrebounded in all three games of the series. Head coach Doc Rivers said prior to Game 3 that some of that was just an anomaly, considering the high volume of shots made in Game 1. However, Blake Griffin said it comes down to “wanting it more.”
Oklahoma City has won the rebounding edge in all 10 of their postseason games so far.
“At the end of the day, we’re just going out there and doing what we need to do,” Perkins said. “The four bigs that we got playing we work together and make it tough for them.”
In addition to the Thunder bigs, point guard Russell Westbrook has been particularly problematic on the glass for the Clippers. He’s had 22 rebounds in three games, including 10 on the offensive glass.