Gameday Report: Clippers finish road trip at Oklahoma City
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On the second night of a back-to-back, the Clippers (37-30) will finish a three-game road trip against the Thunder (41-29) in Oklahoma City.
LA and OKC have faced off twice this season, with the Thunder winning both matchups.
Here’s what to look out for in Friday’s tilt:
Clippers’ defense must find answers –
In their first two matchups of the season, the Thunder offense had its way with the Clippers’ defense.
On Nov. 10, the Clippers fell in Oklahoma City by a score of 120-111, allowing the Thunder to shoot 51 percent from the field and 42 percent from three. Then, on Jan. 4 at STAPLES Center, OKC defeated LA once again, 127-117. On that night, OKC shot 54 percent from the field and 44 percent from three.
In the teams’ first matchup, OKC’s big three of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony combined to score 78 points. In the second matchup, they combined to score 82. So far this season, George is averaging 36.5 points per game against LA.
The Clippers will take the floor on Friday with a roster unseen by the Thunder this season, but regardless, slowing down Oklahoma City’s big three will be paramount if LA hopes to emerge with a victory.
A strong showing in Houston –
If there was such a thing as a moral victory, the Clippers’ loss in Houston could constitute as one.
The Rockets defeated LA in Houston on Thursday night, 101-96, evening the season series at two games apiece. With the loss, and wins by Utah and San Antonio, LA dropped from seventh in the Western Conference standings to ninth.
Despite that, the Clippers gave the Rockets all they could handle, and bounced back nicely from a lackluster 112-106 win in Chicago on Tuesday.
Clippers forward Tobias Harris scored 29 points, including 14 in the first quarter, and center DeAndre Jordan grabbed 18 rebounds, his fifth consecutive game with at least that many.
Defensively, LA held Rockets superstar guard James Harden to 24 points on 7-for-16 shooting, well below his season average of 31.0. LA also held Houston guard Chris Paul to 11 points on 3-for-13 shooting.
Harden and Paul also tallied only 10 assists combined, less than their season average of nearly 17 combined.
Lastly, the Rockets came into Thursday averaging 113.7 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting. The Clippers held them 12 points below that average on 38.9 percent shooting from the field.
The Clippers’ schedule is only going to get tougher, as their next seven games are against playoff teams, and five are on the road. But, despite Thursday’s loss, LA is still off to a good start to such a tough stretch.
Friday’s game will tip off at 5 p.m. PDT.