The Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder came into tonight’s game tied for the best record in the Western Conference. But it seems the West just ain’t big enough for two. The Thunder defeated the Clippers 117-111 in OT, showing that the battle for this conference is far from over.
No matter what, tonight’s game was not going to be easy for the Clippers. After an exciting win against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, it was going to be tough for the Clippers to maintain that momentum in another away game. For example, just compare Chris Paul’s performances both Monday and tonight. On Monday, Paul not only led the team in points but also in spirit. Here, I’m thinking of his one-handed slam dunk or his turnaround jumper over Tony Parker in the last 30 seconds of the game, both which really lit a fire in the rest of the Clippers team. Tonight, however, Paul was held to 9 points and 9 rebounds, shooting 2-14 from the field. It proved smart of the Thunder to not let him find his rhythm.
Of course, the loss of Caron Butler to a right shoulder strain on Monday didn’t help either, although it did give Matt Barnes an opportunity to start. And boy, did he take advantage of it. He stepped up and had an impressive 19 points and 10 rebounds, showing us yet again that any of the Clippers bench players could and would be starters on pretty much any other team.
But of course, you can’t talk about tonight’s game without talking about Thunder SF Kevin Durant. He put up 35 points, 19 of which were from the free throw line. There’s something to be said about a player who can score as many points from the free throw line as most players do in an entire game. Both he and Russell Westbrook proved critical in OT, hitting a couple 3-pointers that solidified their ultimate win.
For the Clippers, Blake Griffin led the team with 23 points and 6 rebounds, followed by Jamal Crawford with 20 points. DeAndre Jordan ended the game with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
For the Thunder, Westbrook followed Durant with 23 points and 9 assists, and Kevin Martin put up 20 points. Serge Ibaka led both teams in rebounds with 12.
With tonight’s defeat, the Clippers drop to 8-3 and the Thunder advance to 9-3. For their 3rd game of a 4-game road trip, the Clippers face the Brooklyn Nets on Friday at 4:30 PST. Currently, the Nets are 2nd in the Atlantic Division, so it should be an interesting game. I only hope the Clippers will be able to shake off tonight’s nail-biting loss and tomorrow’s Thanksgiving-induced food coma in time.