All eyes were going to be on Oklahoma City Thunder PG Russell Westbrook entering Wednesday night’s game at STAPLES Center. After all, the triple-double machine was averaging a league-leading 38.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 11.7 assists through the first three games of this season.
Westbrook fell short of all of those averages against the Clippers, totaling “only” 35 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Westbrook didn’t get a triple-double, but he had a double-double with 10 turnovers. And Westbrook was the only player to reach double figures scoring for the Thunder in a game that saw Oklahoma score only 85 points on 84 shots.
But the Thunder outrebounded the Clippers 52-41 and held the Clippers to 83 points on 87 shots. Thunder backup C Enes Kanter had a game-high 12 rebounds off the bench, with Thunder starting C Steven Adams adding 11. And despite Clippers PG Chris Paul coming up an assist shy of a triple-double, it’s the Thunder that get to 4-0 as they dropped the Clippers to 3-1 in a battle of the West’s last two undefeated teams.
The Clippers had a 66-65 lead entering the 4th quarter, and after back-to-back midrange jump shots by Paul, the Clippers led 78-76 with 5:49 left following a Thunder timeout.
But in those last 5:49, the Thunder outscored the Clippers 9-5, with 6 of those points coming from Westbrook. The rebounds (4) and turnovers (5) were even, both teams made a three, and neither team made a free throw. The difference was that Westbrook made the Clippers pay for their mistakes on offense, scoring after steals. And the issues with the starting lineup on offense can be boiled down to this:
In the entire fourth quarter, the lineup of Paul-Redick-Mbah a Moute-Griffin-Jordan had 0 points on 0/4 from the field, with 5 turnovers.
In a game that was decided by two points, a 7-0 Thunder run from 5:49 left in the 4th until 1:00 left basically decided this game. Here are the ten offensive possessions that the Clippers had in between Paul’s jumper that gave the Clippers their final lead of the game with 5:49 left and a J.J. Redick three with 1:00 left that left the Clippers down 83-81:
- Paul turnover
- Paul turnover
- DeAndre Jordan misses two FTs (Domantas Sabonis hits go-ahead 3)
- Blake Griffin miss FG
- Griffin turnover
- Griffin miss FG
- Paul miss FG
- Paul turnover (Westbrook layup)
- Paul misses 3/shot clock violation
- Crawford turnover (Westbrook dunk)
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) November 3, 2016
In all, this was a hard game to watch for both teams offensively. Both teams combined for 41 turnovers, with the Thunder having only 14 assists to go with 22 turnovers. Oklahoma City made only 12-of-37 (32.4%) uncontested field goals, while LA made only 12-of-35 (34.3%) uncontested field goals. Open jumpers missed all night mixed in with turnovers left and right. OKC made only 12-of-20 FTs (60%), but the Clippers were only 8-of-18 (44.4%) from the stripe. And the starting guards for the Clippers, Paul and Redick, combined to make only 3-of-14 FGs (21.4%) inside the arc.
Two nights after Griffin’s most efficient scoring game, Griffin scored only 14 points on 7-of-21 shooting from the field (33.3%), missing both three-point attempts and all three FTs. In Griffin’s previous game against the Thunder, he scored only 15 points on 7-of-21 shooting from the field in what was a 100-99 home loss last December:
The Clippers will take Thursday off before going on the road for a back-to-back against the Southwest Division. When they do get back on the floor, they’ll be looking to start a new winning streak, Griffin will be looking to start a new double-double streak, and Jordan will be looking to start a new streak with an offensive rebound – all of them were ended against Westbrook and the Thunder Wednesday night.