Los Angeles Clippers
Oklahoma City Thunder
MVP: Russell Westbrook was incredible tonight, doing it all for the Thunder while Kevin Durant couldn’t get his shot to connect with his usual efficiency. The electrifying point guard scored 30 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished 6 assists, turned the ball over just once and came away with 2 steals in 33 minutes.
That was … a match-up I’d like to see in the playoffs, please: These two teams are playing at an elite level in the tougher of two conferences, and would make for an exhilarating postseason series. Blake Griffin and Serge Ibaka scrappiness. Chris Paul versus Westbrook. What’s not to like?
Defining moment: Westbrook grabbed two huge offensive rebounds in the closing moments of what turned out to be a tight finish. The first he threw down with ferocity to give OKC a four-point edge with two minutes to go, and the latter was the game-sealing board with 15 ticks remaining.
– David Vertsberger
Tweet(s) Of The Game
— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) April 10, 2014
Blake Griffin likes to nuzzle defenders like a leaning cat. Only he's huge and built from stone
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) April 10, 2014
Drake and @jovanbuha are in the same building. Just putting that out there.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 10, 2014
Someone needs to wave that Men in Black pen in front of Ibaka so he can forget what just happened.
— netw3rk (@netw3rk) April 10, 2014
.@BWWings Send this to overtime.
— Myles Brown (@mdotbrown) April 10, 2014
OKC, that's… RT @jovanbuha: If anyone was wondering, Drake is rooting for the Thunder. Jumped out of his seat on that KD dunk.
— Word On Road (@WordOnRd) April 10, 2014
The Depth Charge
|Ryan Hollins, C||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Hedo Turkoglu, PF||12||3-7||2-4||1-2||0||3||3||0||1||0||0||3||+5||9|
|Big Baby, PF||12||2-4||0-0||0-0||2||4||6||0||1||0||1||2||0||4|
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
No CBL tonight.
Check Your Messages
In a matchup of, in my opinion, the two best teams in the Western Conference, the Clippers and Thunder put on an aerial attack unlike any other combination of teams in the NBA. Between Chris Paul captaining the Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan respective assassinations of the rim, Russell Westbrook’s brutal assault of air particles, Serge Ibaka’s towering arms, and Kevin Durant’s sneakily vicious forays into the rim, there aren’t two other teams playing better, or higher, at this current juncture of the season.
Jordan started it by eviscerating the very life of Ibaka, soaring from a flat-footed stance into a thundering finish. Westbrook ended it with several gravity-defying rebounds; with one resulting in a one-handed slam so emphatic and emotional, one could hear his roar before the ball even grazed the net.
Boxing out, setting your feet on jumpers, protecting the ball, and numerous other coaching cliches and fundamentals are no doubt important. But the Clippers and Thunder appear to have blended in the perfect balance between athleticism and talent; creating what should be the most exciting matchup in the NBA postseason.
- Andy Liu
Delivering A Message
Logic dictates that if you contain Kevin Durant, you’ll beat the Thunder.
On Wednesday night, the Clippers learned firsthand that that’s just not true.
Despite a 8-for-26 shooting performance from the consensus MVP, Oklahoma City kept Los Angeles at bay, leading by as many as 17 points before nearly collapsing in the final frame. Yet again, the Clippers managed another late-game comeback, and for the second time in three games, it fell short against a playoff opponent.
“I don’t think we’re ever out of a game,” Blake Griffin, who had 30 points and 12 rebounds, said after the game. “The biggest problem is putting ourselves in that position in the first place.”
Bad habits are clearly hard to break for the Clippers. In their earlier matchup in L.A. with the Thunder, the Clips were able to overcome a double-digit deficit. Tonight, they weren’t as fortunate.
- Jovan Buha at FOX Sports West
Chopping The Block
During the Clippers’ several furious mini-runs and comeback attempts they did plenty of things well, things that they have done throughout the year — they kept the ball moving, they forced turnovers and scored in transition, Chris Paul got himself into the paint. But there was one thing they neglected to do for almost the entire second half; they didn’t go to Blake Griffin in the post.
In the first quarter they came out feeding Griffin down low in matchups against Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Steven Adams, but in the second half those looks on the block disappeared almost entirely. Instead, Griffin worked more around the perimeter, setting screens and shooting jumpers, which made for an unusual (for him) second-half shot chart.
It may have been a strategic choice based on the Thunder’s long-armed and active defenders, but it seemed a curious one. In the first quarter both Ibaka and Perkins were forced to the bench with two fouls, and the Clippers were in the bonus remarkably early. That felt like an advantage the Clippers could have pressed through the rest of the game, but it never materialized — Ibaka picked up only two more fouls, and Perkins didn’t pick up any more.
If, as seems likely now, these two teams meet in the playoffs, it will be interesting to see whether this trend continues.
- Ben Mesirow
Difficult, Difficult, Lemon Difficult
Doc Rivers used the phrase “emotional hijacking” to describe what happened to the Clippers against the Thunder Wednesday night.
“One of the things I told [the team] is ‘you’re going to have games like that but you’ve still got to find a way to win when you’re not right.’ I thought everyone individually held on to every mistake tonight, and it led to the next mistake. To me, that’s a great sign. They really wanted to win the game. But each mistake, you can’t live with it. It’s over.”
It’s certainly hard to watch a clumsy pick-with-no-roll that results in Chris Paul dribbling the ball off his foot out of bounds. A misfired Griffin-to-Jordan alley oop that sends DJ flying into the seats makes for quite a messy let-down. And there’s a particularly acute sting to late-game turnovers after such a significant comeback. But better to care too much than too little.
“Every once in a while you want to win a game too bad,” Rivers said. “And you get in the way of yourselves. I thought tonight we were in the way of ourselves a lot. That’s fixable.”
- Patrick James