Before Russell Westbrook came back from his injury, the Oklahoma City Thunder were the best team in the NBA. Now he’s playing again, and the Western Conference leaders have suddenly lost two home games in a row, this time 125-117 to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Thunder actually led 115-112 after a Kevin Durant 3-point with 2:28 left, but terrible offense from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, not for the first time this season in the clutch, including Durant missing twice from the line, helped the Clippers claim one of their biggest wins this season with quite a few playrs missing, although Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes more than made up for that.
The Thunder were missing Kendrick Perkins as well. As much as there’s criticism about his contract, his ability and being too much on the floor, Perkins is better than playing with no center at all. Steven Adams had only 16 minutes on the floor, and Serge Ibaka isn’t very effective as the lone big man. Hasheem Thabeet? The Thunder, wisely, prefer that he simply stays on the bench.
We’ve just got to get over this little slow stretch that we’re in. We’d better. We’ve got to play defense. That’s the thing. We can’t just let teams come in here and do whatever they want offensively. We really couldn’t get ourselves in front of them, and they were beating us down the floor early, and it gave them some confidence and led them to winning the game.
Kevin Durant was huge as always with 42 points and 10 assists but he also took 30 shots. Russell Westbrook looked like he usually does when he doesn’t hit shots: He keeps trying to make the tough ones instead of keeping things simple, scoring 13 points on 3-of-13 from the field, turning the ball over three times and having a lot of trouble guarding Chris Paul, finishing with 5 personal fouls.
The Clippers don’t have much of a bench left at the moment, but concentrating the firepower in the starting lineup seemed to work. Chris Paul looked great and had 18 points with 7 rebounds and 12 assists, as the Clippers got 116 points from their starting players. Jamal Crawford had a huge night with 36 points and five 3-pointers and Matt Barnes completed the lineup revolution with 24 points, hitting six shots from beyond the arc. Blake Griffin with 20 points and DeAndre Jordan with 18 made it a very good night for the frontcourt players as well, going to the line 39 times and hitting 51.9% of their field goal attempts.
Coming down the stretch, we just want to continue to do our game, every single night, no matter who we’re playing. It doesn’t matter. As long as we keep getting better down the stretch, I think we’ll be in good shape. We were on the plane yesterday flying here and we were just talking about how we hadn’t beaten any good teams on the road, any really good teams, and this would be a perfect time to start. Doc was on us, telling us that in the playoffs, you’re going to lose a home game at some point and you’ve got to be able to win on the road. Hopefully this is a win for us that gets us moving.
For once there wasn’t too much sign of bad blood between the teams, and we simply had a great basketball game, that gives us a little insight of how hot the Clippers can be when they get hot, while the Thunder are going to need a bit more time getting Russell Westbrook in shame and in sync, because it’s a shame wasting another huge scoring performance from Kevin Durant.