Los Angeles Clippers
Oklahoma City Thunder
MVP:The Thunder lost a close game at home to the Pelicans Friday night. Even before the Clippers knew about Blake Griffin’s status, the scope was going to be out – and Kevin Durant could have scored 50 in this game if he wanted to. Durant made his first four shots and had 15 of his game-high 29 points in the first quarter.
That was … a sieve:It’s about to get ugly. Actually, it’s been ugly. The Thunder have had their own issues with injuries to key personnel – they lost to the Clippers to open the season with injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant and Westbrook were back, Griffin was out, and the Clippers weren’t able to offer resistance against the Thunder as the game went on. This was the most points the Clippers allowed in a game since February 2010.
X factor: Ladies and gentleman, please welcome to the NBA: Mitch McGary! The 21st pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, McGary came into this game with a total of three points and four rebounds in eight minutes this season. McGary had seven points and five rebounds in just over six minutes … in the second quarter.
— Law Murray
Tweets Of The Game
I really don't know what to think of this. pic.twitter.com/qX8X8TC4EG
— Keri (@keri_young) February 8, 2015
Chris Paul drains a jumper and stares at KD on the bench. Durant barks back: "You're down 20, bro."
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) February 8, 2015
In 96 seconds talking about Blake Griffin and the Clippers' loss to OKC, Chris Paul used the word "tough" 10 times.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 8, 2015
Check Your Messages
Wear and Tear
As a Clippers team that has benefited largely from the strength of their terrific starting unit (third overall in net rating), seeing the loss of JJ Redick was already enough to strike fear in the hearts of many residents of Clipper Nation. To have that followed up with the loss of Blake Griffin feels like the beginnings of a basketball tale penned by Eli Roth. Looking back at how we got here, though, a good place to start would be to look at the schedule and to question who decided for the Clippers to not only embark on their second road trip of the season of over seven games, but to have it end on a stretch of four games in five nights.
There is surely blame to be placed on the construction of the roster as well as the amount of minutes that the starters have combined to play this season. At the end of the day, the players have to play. But just as it is the responsibility of the coach and the staff to put the players in a place to succeed, shouldn’t the league also have a vested interest in giving their players proper amounts of rest and recovery so that their product can be played at its highest level? Or are they content with sticking to a design that has in part contributed to three straight blowouts of the same team to air on national television?
– Brandon Tomyoy
Six Good Men
Maybe that title is misleading, because in reality, the Clippers were down to four quality players against Oklahoma City on Sunday, forcing Doc Rivers into a six-man rotation of Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, Spencer Hawes, Matt Barnes and DeAndre Jordan. (Crawford, meanwhile, has been sneakily reeling for about two-and-a-half months.)
Playing with six guys isn’t sustainable. Paul played 36 minutes in only three quarters. Hawes and DJ played 35. That can’t happen moving forward if J.J. Redick happens to miss the next few games, as well. Doc is going to have to add someone to his rotation, even if that someone is a net negative. It’s not about talent right now. Just bodies.
– Fred Katz
Opening night: Kevin Durant was out with a fractured foot and halfway through the game Russell Westbrook left with a broken hand. On that night, the Clippers held off the short-handed Thunder. And, for the next few weeks, speculation swirled around the Uh-Oh-klahoma City Thunder. When would Durant return? When would Westbrook be back? Can the team hold on or will they be out of playoff contention by Christmas?
Flash forward a couple of months and the roles are reversed. The Thunder have been to hell and back (although they’re still in a dog fight for the eighth seed). Now it’s the Clippers’ turn to face the adversity: When will Griffin return? When is Redick back? (Will Big Baby ever dance again?) Can the team hold on until All-Star Weekend? Fittingly, the team’s met again today, only this time the Thunder crushed the Clippers. Oklahoma City have endured what Los Angeles are going through now. What comes next for the Clippers is a scary proposition.
– Roscoe Whalan