Five Takeaways: Clippers Trample Thunder To Win Seventh Straight
LOS ANGELES – Another injury to a star player didn’t stop the Clippers (29-14) from taking it to the Thunder (25-18), extending the NBA’s longest current winning streak to seven games to start 2017.
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers’ 120-98 win Monday night.
1) Chris Paul leaves with injury – As the Clippers continued to build on a double-digit lead with three minutes left in the first half, they dealt with a sight that was all too familiar, as Chris Paul walked off the court with an injury to his hand and straight back to the tunnel, reminiscent of what happened last postseason in Portland.
This time, it was to his other hand, as Paul missed the rest of the game with a sprained left thumb. X-rays during the game were negative, but further tests still had to be done to determine any damage to ligaments or tendons. Paul had eight points, six assists and three rebounds in 13 minutes before the injury, and the Clippers managed to build to their lead in the second half despite missing the star point guard.
2) “Mo Buckets” goes for season-high & double-double – The entire bench raised its arms in celebration two minutes before the final buzzer sounded, as Marreese Speights finally grabbed his elusive 10th rebound of the night to earn a double-double and his first game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds since February 2013. It was also the fifth 20 and 10 game of his career.
Speights already had a season-high and team-high 23 points when, after a couple failed attempts, he corralled the 10th rebound and gave a fist bump as the fans in the first few rows rose to their feet. Speights finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, going 8-for-15 from the floor and 3-for-7 from long distance, marking his fourth straight game hitting multiple 3-pointers.
3) Felton perfect – For the second straight game, Raymond Felton scored 15 points. And for the second straight game, Felton made exactly seven field goals. He finished a perfect 7-for-7, posting 15 points and six assists.
Felton’s now shot better than 63 percent in three straight games, and both Felton and Austin Rivers continued to attack the paint. Rivers also had the challenge of guarding Russell Westbrook for much of the game, and the team effort defensively helped hold Westbrook to a 7-for-19 mark from the floor and Victor Oladipo to 3-for-11 shooting.
4) No getting by Jordan – It wasn’t a back-to-back 24-point, 21-rebound night for DeAndre Jordan, but his impact wasn’t far off. Jordan, who entered the night averaging 14.7 points and 18 rebounds per game this month, finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a season-high four blocks.
He helped lead the defensive effort by denying the Thunder any time they got inside, with the Clippers holding the Thunder to 16 points in the paint fewer than their season average. Jordan now has at least 15 rebounds in all but one game this month.
5) Winning inside – Speaking of the battle in the paint, no team in the Western Conference averages more points inside than Oklahoma City. That didn’t matter Monday night, as the Clippers outscored the Thunder, 62-34, in the paint.
“It was a focus,” said head coach Doc Rivers. “They destroyed us in the paint in Oklahoma, and our whole goal was to own the paint tonight. I thought our guys did that, and I thought our guards played downhill.”
In addition, the last time these teams met, the Thunder outscored the Clippers 33-0 in transition. That was also a Clippers’ focus, and Monday night the Clippers and Thunder each had 13 fast-break points apiece.
What’s Next? – The Clippers host the Timberwolves on Thursday night.
NOTES: Wesley Johnson missed the game following the birth of his child … J.J. Redick finished with 20 points and went 5-for-10 from behind the arc, giving him his fourth game with at least 20 points this month … Austin Rivers and DeAndre Jordan both picked up technical fouls, marking just the second game in which the Clippers have gotten whistled for at least one technical foul since Doc Rivers spoke to his team two weeks ago about limiting them …