Over at FOX Sports West, I shared five takeaways from Thursday night’s 93-90 win over the Thunder. Click here to read the piece. Here is an excerpt on the general ugliness and sloppiness of the season opener:
Well, that was ugly. And sloppy. And any other negative adjective one would prefer to describe Thursday night’s eyesore.
The Los Angeles Clippers’ season opener was supposed to be a night to remember — the debut of the Steve Ballmer era, revenge for last season’s playoff loss, a chance to prove they’re on the same level as the Spurs and (healthy) Thunder — but it ended up being a game the Clips would rather forget.
“I don’t have a stat sheet. I don’t need one,” coach Doc Rivers said after the Clippers’ 93-90 victory. “It was pretty ugly.”
Still, the Clippers got the win. As Rivers reminded his team after the game, that’s all that matters.
“I walked in the locker room and said, ‘Guys, we won,'” Rivers said. “We didn’t play well. I think everybody who missed wide open shots would like to get those shots every single night. And they didn’t go in.
“But what I was proud of was they kept fighting defensively. I don’t know if we win this game last year. Definitely not early in the season because our defense wasn’t ready. Tonight we got stops when we needed to.”
Despite a slow defensive start, the Clippers held the depleted Thunder to 90 points on 43.1 percent shooting.
With Russell Westbrook checking out midway through the second quarter with what coach Scott Brooks later said was a small fracture of the second metacarpal in his right hand, Oklahoma City just couldn’t keep up offensively — even with third-year player Perry Jones surprisingly going off for a career-high 32 points, one night after scoring three points against Portland.
It wasn’t the Clippers’ most aesthetically pleasing defensive effort — there were plenty of breakdowns, as Rivers admitted — but they found a way to grind out the W, and that’s important early in the season.