It took Matt Barnes to solve the tangle between Serge Ibaka and Blake Griffin, leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder slightly short in the middle, while the Los Angeles Clippers ran them off the floor in the second half en route to a 111-103 win.
The talk before the game was about two things: The Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook showdown, which usually goes Westbrook’s way in terms of individual numbers, at least recently; and the dirty rivarly between Blake Griffin and Serge Ibaka, with the latter known for holding a grudge and being a slightly dirty player.
It goes back to 2012 when Griffin had a huge dunk over Ibaka, and the Spanish center remembered. Ibaka punched Griffin in the groin last season, getting himself ejected in the process. This time it wasn’t anything of the sort. Griffin and Ibaka got tangled up, with Ibaka thinking Griffin was holding on to him while Griffin thought Ibaka was grasping him from behind. Matt Barnes had enough of that and shoved Ibaka, creating chaos. Ibaka tried to punch or simply look like he’s going to do something to Barnes, and that got him tossed out of the game. Barnes, who really didn’t finch, was ejected as well, but the damage was much greater to the Thunder.
Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook finished with double doubles; Durant had 33 points and 10 assists, Westbrook finished with 19 poitns and 10 assists. The problem was getting destroyed on the boards, allowing 18 offensive rebounds, finding it hard to play without both Kendrick Perkins (family death) and Ibaka, as Steven Adams and Nick Collison got into foul trouble, which meant the awful Hasheem Thabeet played too many minutes.
For Paul, it was a bad shooting night (5-of-15) but he did finish with 16 assists, averaging 12.8 so far this season. Blake Griffin, energized from the first half scuffle, put on a show in the second half, looking more and more like the complete player he’s striving to become, although he did it with a lot less opposition than he should have been facing if it wasn’t for the string of hits the Thunder took.
Griffin finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists, but getting Ibaka out of the game might have been his biggest addition to the Clippers, after Ibaka was hitting 6-of-6 from the field, scoring 13 points before getting thrown out.
A big plus for the Clippers besides their display of toughness and attitude which has a lot to do with Doc Rivers being on the sidelines and not Vinny Del Negro was Jamal Crawford, scoring 20 points on 7-of-13 from the field. When Crawford is having an efficient scoring night, it’s rare to see the Clippers lose, no matter who they’re facing.
Matt Barnes ruled the post game as well thanks to his tweet about being tired of standing up for his teammates and how it’s costing him money. While it won’t be something that creates too much tension for the Clippers in the future between players, Barnes realized he wasn’t doing the smart thing by writing that and deleted it shortly after.