The last time the LA Clippers lost was on New Year’s Eve, when the Clippers went into Oklahoma City and were outscored 33-0 on the fastbreak and lost their 6th game in a row. They didn’t have PG Chris Paul due to a hamstring injury that night and were playing on the second night of a road back-to-back, but they were in the worst slump ever under head coach Doc Rivers.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 16, 2017
Paul was healthy for this home game on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, while the Thunder were coming into STAPLES Center having played Sunday night in Sacramento, a game that saw C Steven Adams concussed.
The Clippers host the Thunder tonight, the last of season series between the two teams. What should LA focus on to avenge NYE loss at OKC?
— ClipperBlog (@clipperblog) January 16, 2017
The good thing for the Clippers is that they have now matched their longest win streak of the season as well as matching their longest win streak in franchise history to begin a calendar year (1974 Buffalo Braves!) after blowing out the Thunder 120-98.
But the bad news is that Paul left the game with 2:56 left in the first half after spraining his left thumb defending Thunder PG Russell Westbrook.
Top Performer: Clippers backup big Marreese Speights came through big once again, scoring a team-high 23 points to go with 10 rebounds for his 5th career 20-10 game. Incidentally, his last 20-10 game came against the Thunder in February 2013 as a member of the Cavaliers. Speights made 8-of-15 FGs, 3-of-7 threes, and 4-of-4 FTs as part of his 3rd double-double of the season, and he added 3 assists, including his first dime of the season to C DeAndre Jordan.
X-Factor: The Clippers dominated a Thunder team inside that started Jerami Grant at C in place of Adams. LA outscored the Thunder 62-34 in the paint, making 31-of-44 from the field in the painted area. Overall, LA shot 54.9 percent from the field, the 2nd-highest percentage of the season.
Major Moment: You see many instances in which a bench player leads a team in scoring during a blowout, and most of the points were scored in garbage time. Speights scored 10 points in the 4th quarter, but make no mistake – his presence was felt early in this one. During a 6-minute stretch in the 2nd quarter (From 8:10 to 2:10), Speights outscored the Thunder by himself, scoring 9 of LA’s 24 points to the Thunder’s 6 points in that span. LA’s lead got up to 64-42 by the end of that run, establishing the largest lead of the 1st half. Paul was injured in the last minute of that run, but the Thunder never got closer than 15 points after halftime.
Key Lineup: The Thunder lineup that featured Kanter with the starters in place of rookie PF Domantas Sabonis was steamrolled in a team-leading 7 minutes. That unit was outscored 21-10 while compiling a net rating of -71.0 and recording an assist-turnover ratio of 1-to-5. LA’s starting lineup with Speights in for Luc Mbah a Moute was only on the floor for 3 2nd quarter minutes, but it outscored the Thunder 10-4 while compiling a powerful net rating of 108.5.
The Definition: The focus will surely be on Paul’s prognosis going forward, especially given the fact that the Clippers are only 2-5 this season when Paul doesn’t start. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the 2 wins have come this month, with plus contributions from Raymond Felton and Austin Rivers. Felton made all 7 of his shots from the field tonight as part of a 15-point, 6-assist effort, the most baskets he’s ever made without a miss in his 12-year career. And Rivers had 16 points and 6 assists while helping to contain Westbrook, who finished the game with a season-low 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers, and 7-of-19 shooting from the field (36.8 percent).
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