Los Angeles Clippers
Oklahoma City Thunder
MVP: Russell Westbrook notched his 11th triple-double of the season in a very big way, scoring 25 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing 20 assists. There was little to no answer for him tonight, and the Thunder remain undefeated this season in games where Westbrook earns a triple-double.
That was … off the board: While the Clippers didn’t give up 63 rebounds to the Thunder like they did just a week ago, their inability to grab rebounds on either end of the floor proved to be a significant factor in their undoing. The effort on the offensive end was especially dismal, as the men in black jerseys only had 2 offensive rebounds for the entire game. Prior to tonight, the team has only grabbed 2 or less offensive rebounds in a game 6 previous times dating back to when offensive rebounds began to be recorded.
X factor: Anthony Roberson cloaked J.J. Redick every second he was in the game, forcing the Clippers to fall back on secondary and tertiary options in their halfcourt offense the entire night. With all the extra energy spent to get their offense going, the team looked gassed midway through the third quarter, and were unable to take the lead after finally tying the game at 75.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) March 10, 2016
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 10, 2016
DeAndre Jordan had a season-low 7 rebounds. Fewest he's had since 2/6/15
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) March 10, 2016
Check Your Messages
No Coming Back
It seems like a usual enough complaint of Clippers games that it’s nearly a cliche at this point: Chris Paul was way too passive early. Paul loves to get his teammates involved; a fact that was in evidence by the 14th assist he racked up with 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter. On a breakaway with an open path to the basket, Paul returned a J.J. Redick pass back to the Clips’ designated sharpshooter just as his feet met the 3 point line. Redick seemed almost baffled by Paul’s decision to snap the pass back over his shoulder just 8 feet from the basket, but was by no means too shocked to bury the wide open jumper he’d just been gifted.
It was the kind of play that causes explosive reactions at Staples Center; on the road in OKC, down 18, with just over 5 minutes left to play in the game, and with a wide open layup in front of him, it seemed like more of a risky gamble. It’s such a signature Chris Paul play, of the sort that has earned him a well-deserved reputation as one of the best all-around point guards in the league today – even with the advent of so many transcendent talents at the position of late. However, his habit of seeking assists instead of buckets may very well have been the exact tendency that put the Clippers in such a disadvantaged situation to begin with. It was especially shortsighted considering everything at stake in this game; not just the 3rd seed and a favorable matchup with the Mavs or Blazers, but the chance to avoid Golden State in the 2nd round. Who knows? Maybe Chris wants to see Steph Curry in the Conference Semifinals, as a way of proving himself; knocking off the tougher competition earlier might be more satisfying if they can manage it. But on the whole, I think Clippers fans – and possibly Paul himself, considering the minutes he had to play only to lose – would rather see CP3 scoring more and checking out early than orchestrating yet another dramatic comeback win.
This Is A Test
So here’s the deal. The Clippers and Thunder are in the middle of their own playoff series. Or they might as well be. The chances of the two teams meeting in the actual postseason is almost nonexistent.
These three regular season matchups (the two teams play again to close the month of March) serve as tuneups for both the Clippers and Thunder. Oooh boy. The Clippers should be happy they won’t see this team in the playoffs.
Oklahoma City is a severely flawed team, relatively speaking. We don’t need to overanalyze this; that’s what the 3-on-3 is for. You all saw the Thunder turn a blowout win in L.A. into a collapse in less than half a game last week.
That said, the Thunder are just too talented at the top. This dude Russell Westbrook had a 20-20 game … while outrebounding DeAndre Jordan! Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 23 rebounds tonight … the entire Clippers starting lineup had a mere 15 rebounds.
The Clippers never led in this one. Kevin Durant scored a game-high 30 points – he never let up the bloodletting of the Clippers defense. It’ll be interesting to see how March 31 goes, but in my view, it’s just a safe haven for the postseason – one that won’t involve these two teams on the same floor.