Los Angeles Clippers
Oklahoma City Thunder
MVP: It took Kevin Durant nearly nine minutes to make his first shot, but in the second half, all bets were off. The league MVP finished the game with 39 points on 23 shots and grabbed 16 rebounds. He was unstoppable down the stretch and made all 10 of his free throws.
That was … unfortunate: When Chris Paul was called for a questionable offensive foul late in the game, an understandably agitated Staples Center responded by throwing drinks at the referees.
X factor: Scott Brooks opened the second half with center Steven Adams on the court instead of usual starter, Kendrick Perkins. The rookie was huge throughout the contest, tallying 10 points and 11 rebounds in 40 big minutes of action.
— Michael Pina
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Incorrect. Don’t have girlfriends. RT @traread “No NBA this weekend.” – the greatest 4 words that a bloggers girlfriend will ever hear.
— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) May 15, 2014
Doc on CP3: “I just feel awful for him. He’s the spirit of our team and right now his spirit is broken.”
— Ramona Shelburne (@RamonaShelburne) May 15, 2014
Have this theory that losses are more crushing to fans than athletes because at least the athlete just got some exercise #ImportantTheory
— Ethan Sherwood Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) May 15, 2014
The Depth Charge
|Ryan Hollins, C||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Hedo Turkoglu, PF||DNP INACTIVE|
|Big Baby, PF||12||3-5||0-0||0-0||1||1||2||0||0||1||0||0||-8||6|
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
Faced with the finality that is the end of the Clippers’ season, the gang realized there’s always next year — and that our weekends are suddenly free.
Check Your Messages
Consider the following number: 56.22
That’s the average number of games logged by an on-court Clipper on Thursday night. Two-thirds of a season. “We’re a team of process,” Doc Rivers said after the game — process over results being the unspoken mantra of the franchise all season.
We knew how good the team could be, but didn’t know how good they actually were. We saw how good Blake Griffin could be, how good DeAndre Jordan could be. But nothing ever locked into place in that Spurs-ian manner.
56.22. The Clippers won more games this year than the average number of games their Game 6 rotation played in a Clippers uniform. We’ll always know how good they were, but never know how good they could’ve been.
– Andrew Han
The Sweater Song
All the little imperfections of this Clippers team seemed to come to the fore tonight. In a way, there could not have been a more predictably appropriate way for the season to end.
The lack of a third big, the absence of a front-line two-way wing, the inability of the offense to consistently function when Chris Paul rested. In the second half, Oklahoma City picked at each of these loose ends, and it seemed that everybody, (Staples Center crowd most definitely included) could see exactly what was happening. Equally, there was no obvious way to stop the unraveling.
It’s depressingly linear, but all the ways in which we worried the Clippers were just not quite good enough were precisely the ways in which it all came undone.
– Seth Partnow
There are a lot of reasons the Clippers lost this game – the ball stopped moving in the second half; the Clippers missed layups, committed some bad turnovers, and lost track of assignments on defense; and Kevin Durant did Durant things. But they didn’t just give these last games away; the Thunder took them. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant played to their potential, and Steven Adams, Reggie Jackson, and Derek Fisher played valuable roles. Even Nick Collison hit a huge corner three. But none of that softens the blow – to put it simply, these were tough losses. You could see it on Blake Griffin’s face in the press conference, in Doc Rivers’ loosened tie and heavy sighs, in J.J. Redick’s watery-eyed grimace.
As a lifelong Clipper fan I grew accustomed to losing, to dropping game after game without much hope. Right now, this almost feels worse. I hope that eventually Clippers fans (myself included) will be able to look at the big picture, at the great season that was and the bright future ahead, at the time we have left with CP, Blake, DJ, and Doc, and be able to smile. But if you asked me right now if I’d trade the playoff run and these brutal losses for an inverted record and a handful of ping pong balls, I’d actually have to think about it. This was just one more reminder that every team but one ends the season with a loss. Sports are the worst.
Or at least they are until Sunday, when we get to watch this Thunder team take on the Spurs, and Miami duke it out with Indiana, and then there’s the Finals. And baseball season. And the draft. And then football. And then it’s basketball season all over again … Sports are the best.
– Ben Mesirow
For the second straight game, the Clippers had ample opportunity to win: they led by as much as 16 early in the 2nd quarter, the Thunder had early foul troubles, and Westbrook was having one of his worse possible games. And yet, the Clippers still couldn’t close out this game, despite solid statistical games from both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Kevin Durant and the Thunder were just too much. As was the common theme among the Clippers this year, their standards needed to be higher because these Clippers hold the burden of being exceptional.
This burden speaks volumes to the leadership and influence of Doc Rivers, who gave both Clipper fans and players a taste of championship aspirations and expectations. He quickly established the “Big 3” experiment, wherein he challenged Paul to be an even better leader, Griffin to expand the many dimensions of his game, and Jordan to become the defensive rim protector he now seems more than capable of being. Throughout these grueling six games, it was clear that this Rivers’ experiment worked, but the Clippers lost — and for good reason. Throughout the playoffs we saw Hedo Turkoglu and Danny Granger play meaningful minutes for the first time in years. We perhaps saw a misallocations of time for Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick. We saw Glen Davis in crucial moments because he was delegated as the third Clipper big man.
The Clippers’ loss perhaps emphasized the need for more successful experiments to be done in the lab of Doc Rivers, because he needs to be held to an exceptional standard as well. In season one, Doc Rivers established that he knew who his “Big 3” was, but it will be his job, as the coach and GM, to figure out how to maximize the rest of the Clippers, so that the team can achieve the exceptional standard that Clipper nation has so quietly longed for.
– Davis Vo
There’s no accounting for bad luck. It’s hard to remember that after a loss. There’s no accounting for a deluded, racist owner either. In the aftermath of all that chaos, at least the Clippers are rid of him.
So maybe try to remember this instead: The Clippers’ best season in franchise history. A wealth of highlights, stories, substance. How the most exciting part of Blake Griffin’s game somehow became passing. DeAndre Jordan. Man, DeAndre Jordan.
This season was a success, as far as I’m concerned; an important step toward a larger goal. Yes, I’m leaving you with a well-worn Doc Rivers’ mantra, something of a cliche at this point, but it’s tried and true, an apt season review: The process is more important than the result.
The Clippers have always been defined by their missteps, from Donald Sterling to Lob City’s early unmet expectation, not to mention decades of turmoil. Today — finally — they get to be defined by progress. After the game, Doc told reporters, “We started figuring out what Clipper basketball is and will be … and time ran out.”
He’s wrong there. The Clippers have plenty of time.
– Seerat Sohi