Isaiah Roby
(Adam Pantozzi | NBAE via Gett Images)

Game Recap: Thunder at Clippers

Highlights: OKC at LAC

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter |



In its season finale, the Thunder utilized its final 48 minutes of game action to continue extending valuable minutes to its youngest and newest players. Though the team ultimately fell to the Clippers thanks to a second-half surge, the experience and the opportunity to play real minutes in an NBA game is one the Thunder contingent didn’t take for granted. Thunder 10-day signee Zavier Simpson capped off the season with a career-high scoring and rebounding night while his dad was in the crowd to witness. 


The Second Half Difference

The Clippers pulled ahead by 21 points in the first quarter thanks to an electric 3-point shooting performance. The team made its first six attempts from behind the arc and finished the first frame with seven triples while shooting at a 64 percent clip. Meanwhile, the Thunder’s offense got out to a slow start shooting just 31 percent from the field and 33 percent from deep. 

After falling behind by as many as 29 points, OKC’s offense found some rhythm in the second frame. The group closed out the second quarter on an extended 17-3 run to shave down its 29-point deficit to 15 heading into halftime. The Thunder shot 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep over that span. 

The Thunder’s momentum would be short lived as the Clippers emerged from the locker room and put together a 14-0 run to regain momentum and solid control of the game through the remaining two quarters.  

Taking Advantage of Opportunities

Just 48 minutes of playing time remained for the Thunder’s young players to garner extended minutes and opportunities on an NBA floor. The group took advantage. 

Though the offense couldn’t keep pace with the Clippers throughout the night, all five starters registered double figures and four finished with 16 or more points. Both Georgios Kalaitzakis and Zavier Simpson led the Thunder in scoring with 17 points each.

Beyond the scoreboard, the small Thunder rotation could be seen dapping each other up and encouraging one another in between possessions. The connectedness and chemistry between the young group spoke volumes of their professionalism despite having played just four games together. 

“I just told the team. I was really impressed with that group of guys. That's not [easy] to do, to play the minutes that they played in an individual game never mind over the course of the week, and they did so with professionalism, and they competed,” said Daigneault. “I hope they enjoyed the opportunity to play in the NBA again in some cases and for the first time and others.”

Stand Out Stats

For the fourth time in a matter of six games, Thunder 10-day signee Jaylen Hoard registered a double-double. The forward reached double-figures in points and rebounds by the beginning of the fourth quarter and by the end of the night, registered 14 points and 15 boards. 

Among the sea of Black Clipper jerseys throughout the arena, there was one fan that stood out. He was wearing an unmistakable OKC Blue jersey with the number five on the front. The back of the jersey read ‘Simpson’ in support of OKC Blue alum and 10-day signee Zavier Simpson. 

The fan was Simpson’s dad who also served as Simpson’s head coach in high school. The Ohio native watched as his son posted his career high on the final game of the season. 

“My dad flew in today and he had OKC jersey,” said Simpson. “So a big shout out to him. Appreciate him coming. I know he's extremely proud not sure where he got the jersey from but thankful for the support.”

Simpson posted 17 for the night on 7-of-15 from the field including a triplet of patented hook shots. In addition, the 6-foot guard pulled down a career high nine boards against the Clippers. 


Zavier Simpson on what his opportunity with the Thunder has meant to him…

“It has meant a lot. It is definitely rewarding for all of the hard work and dedication I put into it. I'm just thankful. The 10-day [contract] came kind of late, but I can't be more appreciative. Just being able to have the opportunity to lace up, don the jersey, represent myself, my family, my friends and the organization.”


With 82 games officially in the books, the Thunder returns to OKC to begin what will be an important offseason in terms of player development. All of OKC’s young players logged valuable, relevant minutes of NBA action and the offseason provides a chance for the players to build on the strides they took throughout the 82-game stretch.