Regular Season Recap: Thunder vs Clippers

CLIPPERS 100

THUNDER 98
4 Number of players who scored in double figures for the Thunder (Durant, Westbrook, Harden and Ibaka). Nine players scored in all

6-for-7 Shooting night for Serge Ibaka in addition to seven rebounds and three blocks

8 Points for Derek Fisher, his most as a member of the Thunder

9 Rebounds for Kevin Durant to go with his 22 points, part of a 39-37 rebounding advantage for the Thunder

10 Total blocked shots for the Thunder, from five different players

13-for-15 Free throw shooting numbers for Russell Westbrook on the night. The Thunder shot 24-for-27 as a team

21 Assists for the Thunder as a whole, including seven by Russell Westbrook

46.2 Three-point shooting percentage for the Thunder, including a season-high tying 12 three-pointers made

The Thunder stays at home and will host the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. Game time is 7:00 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder then immediately travels to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves on Saturday night, and continues its five-game road trip to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Monday and the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
Despite an offensive performance that was predicated on making the right pass, executing and playing proper basketball, the Thunder simply struggled to knock down shots against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, falling 100-98 at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Clippers point guard Chris Paul made an acrobatic twisting layup with 8.8 seconds remaining, and Kevin Durant’s three-pointer hit off the back iron with 1.9 seconds remaining. While players like James Harden and Nick Collison were hard on the team’s effort, Head Coach Scott Brooks said he could live with the effort and attempt to make the right basketball play even though shots weren’t falling.

“We missed some good shots,” Brooks said. “I can’t complain. There are going to be nights, and this is a classic example that we’ve talked about and have always had success doing it. There are going to be nights where you miss your shots… But you have to have your defense. It has to have your back when you don’t have your offensive game going and tonight (the Clippers) shot a high percentage and they got too many points around the basket.”

While Brooks thought the defensive intensity could have been ratcheted up a notch on certain possessions, the overall commitment to playing solid Thunder basketball was there. In fact, even though the Thunder only shot 40.8 percent from the field on the night, it ended up with 21 assists on 31 made baskets. The team tried to move the ball as best it could, and even though it struggled shooting inside the arc, players like Harden (3-for-6), Thabo Sefolosha (2-for-2) and Derek Fisher (2-for-2) were able to knock down open three-pointers. Fisher ended up with eight points, his most since joining the Thunder against the Clippers on March 21.

“He’s just doing what he does,” Harden said of Fisher. “He’s strong defensively and then catching and shooting and being ready to shoot. He did a great job in the minutes that he was in… Just drive and kicks, we have so many playmakers on this team and so many willing passers that we had a lot of open shots, a lot of open threes, especially when they went to that zone. We just didn’t make shots late in the game, but we’ll bounce back.”

With basketball minds like Harden, Collison, Fisher and Kendrick Perkins in the locker room, there are always takeaway lessons after wins or losses, and tonight was no different. Fisher and Perkins, the former Laker and Celtic whose lockers are now next to one another shared a brief conversation after the game, and Perkins divulged a bit of the wisdom passing between the two veterans about where the Thunder might have been able to play better heading into the playoffs.

“It just came down to the little things down the stretch,” Perkins said. “And in games like this, I think Fish said it well, you have to play every possession. So if it’s a six-point game or a four-point game the whole game, we have to make sure we do it every possession, because every possession counts down the stretch. Execute, no turnovers, take good shots and we can win the ball game.”

TURNING POINT:
The turning point in this one came late in the third quarter with the Thunder leading 80-72, as the Clippers closed out the period and opened up the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run. That burst began with 55.0 seconds remaining in the third quarter when Randy Foye knocked down two free throws, then Chris Paul followed suit after a drive with 6.4 seconds remaining. After the quarter break, the Clippers got a floating jumper from Kenyon Martin and a Chris Paul running bank shot that tied the game at 80-80 with 10:53 remaining. From there on out the Thunder was only able to bump the lead back up to four points once at 84-80 before the Clippers took the lead on a Foye three-pointer with 8:35 remaining. The game was tied twice the rest of the way, but the Clippers were able to hang on.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Serge Ibaka does a masterful job of staying down on Blake Griffin’s pump fakes then altering his shot to force a miss, then Thabo Sefolosha makes a steal… Russell Westbrook makes an unbelievable shake-and-bake move in the lane, then Kendrick Perkins tips in a loose offensive board… Great ball rotation from Westbrook to Sefolosha to Kevin Durant for a three-pointer, then Perkins boxes out for a defensive rebound… Westbrook jumps into the lane then kicks it to Sefolosha for three, then Durant drives and dishes to Perkins who finds Ibaka for a slam dunk… Perkins sets a perfect screen that frees up Westbrook for a jumper, then Westbrook makes a beautiful pitch-ahead pass to Ibaka for a slam dunk in transition… Nick Collison snags an offensive rebound off a missed free throw, which leads to a Westbrook drive and two foul shots, then Collison frees up James Harden for a three-pointer… Durant makes a steal and gets fouled as he flew down court, then Collison makes two blocks at the end of the first quarter to save a basket… Smart move by Harden to draw a foul on a three-point attempt, then Derek Fisher plays tough defense to nag the Clippers’ perimeter players… Nice job on a broken play by Harden to grab a loose ball and pitch it to Daequan Cook for three, then Nazr Mohammed tips in a miss on the next possession… Harden drives the lane then dishes to Fisher, who confidently steps into a three-pointer, then Fisher takes a Collison rebound all the way down court for a layup… Westbrook slides into the lane again and hits Fisher for a corner three-pointer, then the Thunder destroys the zone defense with passing as Durant hit Perkins, who found Ibaka for a hook shot… Really pretty pass from Westbrook to Perkins down on the block for a jam, then Ibaka makes a smart pass inside to Perkins for a hook shot… Westbrook uses a nice pump fake to get into the lane and score with the foul, then a picture perfect defensive possession by Ibaka and Perkins to force two difficult misses… Westbrook drives and kicks to Durant for a three-pointer, then Sefolosha and Westbrook end the half with a tough defensive possession.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Sefolosha takes a Durant pass, dribbles twice in the lane and hits Perkins for a dunk, then Westbrook finds a cutting Durant for a big slam in the lane… Westbrook knocks down a three-pointer, then Ibaka cleans up a missed layup for a tip-in… Ibaka with a flying block from across the lane, then Westbrook races down court to draw a foul, followed by good ball movement that ends in a Sefolosha three-pointer… Tough rebounding by Durant, who then takes the ball and starts his own fast break, leading to a Harden three-pointer… Perfect pick from Collison to free up Durant for a mid-range jumper, then Durant helps over on defense to force a miss… Harden drives to the bucket and scores for a much needed basket, then Collison boxes out on defense to re-gain possession… Fisher does a nice job of pump-faking, driving into the lane and hitting Ibaka for a jumper, then Ibaka swats a Griffin shot into the third row that leads to a shot clock violation… Durant shakes and bakes to get into the lane after he blocks a shot, then he hits Harden for a three-pointer to regain the lead… Harden tips a defensive board to Ibaka, then draws a foul on the other end to get to the free throw line… Slick drive and dish down the baseline by Westbrook to find a cutting Ibaka… Durant gets a block on a three-point attempt, then takes the ball of a curl and knocks down a three-pointer thanks to a Perkins screen.



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