The Oklahoma City Thunder are looking for some spark to lift their season into some sort of consistent success. Maybe a 131-108 win over the Los Angeles Clippers with Kevin Durant having one of his best shooting performances in a while will provide that kind of much needed boost.
Durant scored 29 points in only 29 minutes, hitting 10-of-15 from the field and not needing to do too much from beyond the arc. After a combined 14-of-42 on his last two outings, this was a blessed change. Like most teams recently against the Clippers, he and his teammates found it quite easy to reach the line. Durant made 7-of-7, his team had 31-of-38. The Clippers have allowed teams 30 or more free throw attempts on their last three games.
Besides Durant having his way with a team that seems to be lost, Russell Westbrook got to 19 points despite an awful day from the field (6-of-19, but there’s nothing out of the ordinary about that) to go with 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Mitch McGary scored 19 points off the bench, while Dion Waiters and Reggie Jackson had the rare pleasure of playing well, courtesy of a long stretch of garbage time, combining to score 31 points on 11-of-16 from the field.
The problem for the Thunder is turning this into a winning streak that puts them in the top 8. With Anthony Davis possibly injured, they might catch a break and start moving upwards, and yet they still need for teams like the Suns, Mavericks and who knows, maybe the declining Clippers, to start losing at a more alarming rate. Without some more offensive and defensive consistency from the Thunder themselves, a change isn’t going to come.
The Clippers are in trouble. They’re far from a perfect team or even the best in the West. Now they have to handle all these flaws without Blake Griffin, which looked very bad on their first try in Oklahoma City. By the end of the game, the home fans even got bored with the one sided affair and didn’t get to watch the long stretch of garbage time. It’s the second time in three games the Clippers fall behind by more than 30 points, falling to four straight losses, tied for the most since Paul joined the team.
The funniest moment of the game took place in a stare down between Chris Paul and Kevin Durant. With the Thunder leading by way, way too much, Chris Paul knocked down a meaningless 3-pointer and gave Kevin Durant a stare that can be implied as provoking, or trying to make a point. Durant simply told Paul that his team is still down by 20 points. Case closed. But there’s not a lot of love between these two teams, which Durant made quite clear when he mentioned the Clippers whine too much after the game.
Kevin Durant seems to forget about all the technical fouls he picked up in recent years or the numbers Russell Westbrook is able to generate. He seems to forget about all the talking he’s doing this season, regardless of how well his team is doing or not. It’s one thing to be on a team leading (or close to it) the league and being on his way to win the MVP. It’s another thing to criticize everyone and everything while being unable to recreate his ability from last season.