THUNDER TRAILS SERIES
5 Assists for Reggie Jackson on the night
8 Points for Jeremy Lamb in addition to six rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block
9-for-14 Shooting numbers for Russell Westbrook, who ended up with 29 points, four rebounds and four assists
10 Number of fast break points the Thunder held the Clippers to, on just six shot attempts
25 Points for Kevin Durant on the night, in addition to four rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block
27-18 The Thunder’s scoring advantage in the fourth quarter
47-31 The Thunder’s rebounding advantage on the night, including a 15-6 edge in offensive rebounds
May 5th, 2014
In the blink of an eye, the Thunder’s positive first quarter momentum was erased by a barrage of three-point shooting by the Los Angeles Clippers, and Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team could never get back out in front.
In Game 1 the Thunder fell 122-105 to the Clippers after making a quick 9-0 burst to take a 16-10 lead in the first quarter. A 21-4 response run by the Clippers was fueled by five three-pointers, just a third of the total number of threes the blistering hot Clippers made on the night. Overall, the Thunder allowed Los Angeles to shoot 54.9 percent from the field, including 15-for-29 from the three-point line, which was simply not strong enough defense to make the Thunder’s 45.9 percent shooting hold up.
Mostly, the Thunder was able to get Chris Paul to take contested shots outside of the paint, which is a part of the gameplan. The problem was that the Clippers floor general and his teammates seemed unable to miss.
“We started the game off well,” forward Kevin Durant said. “They were hitting jump shots. That’s what we want… The effort was there. We had good intentions. But they got hot. We have to correct it. We have to make them miss next game and be a little bit more physical.”
While the Thunder’s offense seemed to operate at a decent level, getting 29 points from Russell Westbrook and 25 from Kevin Durant, there were a few areas of concern on that end of the floor as well. The Thunder turned the ball over 18 times leading to 23 points for the Clippers, meaning many were live ball turnovers that led to immediate points. Despite out-rebounding the Clippers by a whopping margin of 47-31, the Thunder just couldn’t get enough stops or string together enough scoring possessions to reign this game back in.
“We have to look at what happened and get better,” forward Nick Collison explained. “We realize that whoever wins this series is going to win four games. We lost an opportunity tonight to get one. Whatever happened tonight is not going to affect us in Game 2.”
After playing a seven game grind-it-out, half court series against the Memphis Grizzlies that ended just two days ago, the Thunder must shift gears quickly to a Clippers team that plays in nearly completely opposite fashion. The Clippers love to run, get their big men into the open floor and drive-and-kick to three-point shooters.
On Tuesday, the Thunder will use practice time to look at film and walk through some defensive scenarios in order to better match its own defensive execution with the Clippers personnel. Regardless of exactly how the Clippers play, it will really be whether the Thunder is able to impose its style of play and create its defensive rhythm and tempo that will determine who wins Game 2.
“It’s just understanding who we’re playing and the things that they like to do and the way they like to play,” guard Derek Fisher said. “More importantly, it’s the things that we do well and the things that we can do to attack them and make it difficult for them to stay with us.”
“You’re finding a way to be who you are for longer periods of time than they are,” Fisher continued. “Tonight, we obviously didn’t do that… We have to figure out a way, very quickly, to tap into who we are when we’re at our best.”
Although this one hurts tonight, the Thunder recognizes this is just one game in a series that takes four games to win. Adjustments are always made after Game 1, and whether they are minor or major, Brooks and his staff will work together to try to put the best combinations of five players on the floor at all times, no matter who they are on the Thunder’s roster.
“I believe in all of our guys and the flexibility we have as a group,” Brooks said. “I’m confident in all of the guys and I’m confident that we’re all going to play much better than tonight.”
The Thunder seemed to have momentum on its side when it went on a 9-0 run in the middle of the first quarter, but the Clippers responded with a 21-4 burst that broke the game open, and the Thunder would never get closer than nine points the rest of the way. JJ Redick started the run with a three-pointer, then Chris Paul hit three three-pointers in a row, with a Matt Barnes fast break dunk sprinkled in. Redick then hit a floater before Barnes hit a three-pointer and Paul hit a pull-up jumper to turn what was a 16-10 Thunder lead into a 31-20 Clippers advantage. During the stretch, the Thunder turned the ball over four times and missed three shots.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Kevin Durant and Kendrick Perkins both save the ball bank inbounds to keep possession alive for the Thunder. Beautiful passing and cutting from Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha to get an easy layup at the rim. Excellent awareness in transition by Sefolosha to turn his head around and make a steal, leading to a Durant three-pointer. Nick Collison scraps under the boards for a loose defensive rebound. Reggie Jackson battles DeAndre Jordan down low to draw a three-second call.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Nice job by Steven Adams to fight around a screen to draw an offensive foul on his man. Reggie Jackson hustles to track down a loose ball to save possession, then Jeremy Lamb flies back into transition defense to block a shot at the rim and save the ball in bounds. Derek Fisher anticipates a sing pass into the corner and picks it off before it can get there. Lamb sneaks back to pick off an outlet pass then takes it strong to the bucket for an old-fashioned three-point play.
“We have to play much better on the defensive side of the ball. They were getting to the free throw line, they were getting to the paint and they were making three’s, so we have to do a better job all the way around.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks