6-for-6 Serge Ibaka’s shooting numbers on the night, good for 13 points
6-for-28 Three-point shooting numbers that the Thunder held to Clippers to, for just 21.4 percent
10 Assists for Russell Westbrook in addition to 19 points for his first double-double of the season
19 Assists in the first half for the Thunder on __ made baskets
27-for-33 Free throw shooting numbers, led by Kevin Durant’s 15-for-17
33 Points for Kevin Durant in addition to ten assists and six rebounds
33-25 The Thunder’s scoring advantage in the first quarter
Nov. 13th, 2013
LOS ANGELES – When momentum swings like a pendulum in an NBA game, it’s the last push that determines the winner each evening.
In the Thunder’s 111-103 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club built a 14-point lead in the first half, only to see it chipped away down to nine at halftime. In the third quarter, the Clippers took control, outscoring the Thunder by 14 and building a 13-point advantage. Clawing right back, the Thunder battled throughout the fourth quarter to pull within four, but a clutch three-pointer by the Clippers’ Jamal Crawford put the lid on what would have been the Thunder’s second straight dramatic comeback win.
The Thunder may have played Wednesday’s game without the services of starting center Kendrick Perkins and without Serge Ibaka in the second half, but Brooks and his staff are confident that if they execute on both ends, every player on the Thunder roster can help the team to victory. Unfortunately in two key areas, the Thunder didn’t play to its standards as it turned the ball over 22 times and allowed 18 offensive rebounds.
“I believe in all the guys in the locker room, that’s why they work hard every day,” Brooks said. “There are going to be times when your number gets called, probably when you don’t expect it.”
“They beat us because they turned us over and got offensive rebounds,” Brooks continued. “No matter who is on the floor we believe all the guys can perform better.”
Regardless of a double-digit deficit, the Thunder’s attitude never wavered, and behind the leadership of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the team made a late charge to push the Clippers to the brink. By getting to the free throw line 33 times and knocking down 27, including a 15-for-17 night from Durant, the Thunder was able to slow the game down and get within two possessions.
“We just had to play quick and I think that’s what we were doing,” Durant explained. “We were getting them off balanced and finding guys and getting to the rim and getting fouled. They hit some tough shots down the stretch, you have to give them credit.”
Although the Clippers made some big shots down the stretch, the Thunder overall did a nice job defending the three-point line, holding Los Angeles to just 6-for-28 shooting from behind the arc. The first half in general was successful for the Thunder as it scored 62 points a high for a first half for the team this season. That offensive output in the first half was impressive, as the Thunder assisted on 13 of its first 15 made field goals, ending the first half with 19 assists.
“That’s something we can build on,” Brooks said. “That’s something we talked about all training camp. When we have good execution, good spacing and made the extra pass, we’re going to make shots.”
“We were finding guys and guys were cutting,” Durant said. “We were getting stops too. We were getting out and getting some points. The third quarter the ball got sticky and we weren’t playing with any force, and that’s how they got back into the game and took over.”
The catalyst early for all the unselfish ball movement and offensive precision was Westbrook, who finished with 19 points and 10 assists, his first double-double of the season. In the first quarter alone, Westbrook had five assists, and in the first half he fed Ibaka for a number of easy buckets, leading to the rangy forward’s 6-for-6 shooting start that gave him 13 points through two quarters. As the Thunder continues to develop throughout the season, it can look to stretches of high level play like Wednesday’s first half as the type of play to replicate in the future.
“He did a great job in the first quarter when I was running the floor,” Ibaka said. “It’s something we need him to do every game… We were moving the ball after they missed. That was the key.”
The Thunder led 69-60 with 7:28 remaining in the third quarter, but the Clippers went on a 14-2 run that flipped the momentum of the game over the ensuing three minutes of action. It started with two JJ Redick free throws that he followed up with a three-pointer from the wing. After three straight Thunder misses, Steven Adams made a put-back dunk, but Chris Paul added four straight points of his own, two on the free throw line and two on a mid-range jumper. Thabo Sefolosha committed an offensive foul and Russell Westbrook’s missed layup turned into a Blake Griffin fast break layup. A turnover out of a timeout resulted in another Griffin fast break, this time a three-point play, giving the Clippers a 74-71 lead with 3:55 left in the quarter. The Thunder would manage to retake the lead at 75-74 a minute later, but the Clippers quickly regained an advantage and held it for the rest of the game.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Great patience by Thabo Sefolosha in transition to wait until the last minute to dump off a pass to Russell Westbrook for a layup. Heads up play by Westbrook in the backcourt to stay in and make a steal then get to the corner for a three-pointer. Smart work by Kevin Durant to time a two-for-one opportunity perfectly to get the Thunder an extra possession at the end of the quarter. Nice play by Jeremy Lamb to tip a loose defensive rebound to Perry Jones. Strong box out by Durant to keep DeAndre Jordan away from the offensive glass.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Great work by Steven Adams to seal his man to give Durant a wide open lane to the rim. Excellent play at the rim to save a dunk by Adams, then Ryan Gomes makes a smart foul. Active hands in the passing lane by Durant and Sefolosha to force a turnover. Nice hustle by Hasheem Thabeet to slap an offensive rebound out to a teammate. Heads up play by Reggie Jackson to see Durant asking for a lob, drawing a foul.
“We’re a team that wants to get better every day and a team that challenges each other every day. We have some things that we have to get better at.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks