Let’s face it, the Clippers are pretty happy taking one of two games at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
Wednesday night they looked tired, unfocused and unable to get Blake Griffin involved in the offense. What that created was a 112-101 loss to the Thunder. The best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal semifinal series is now tied, 1-1. Game 3 is Friday night at Staples Center, followed by Game 4 on Sunday afternoon.
It’s not unusual for a road team to fall way short after winning Game 1. The Clippers lived up to that billing. Despite the 11-point margin, the game really wasn’t that close.
The Thunder was led by their usual duo of Kevin Durant (32 points) and Russell Westbrook (31). They combined for 23-of-44 shooting from the field. Westbrook was generously awarded a triple-double with 10 rebounds and 10 assists. The gift came on a late assist on a play he didn’t really create. Durant had 12 rebounds and nine assists.
Durant was awarded the league's Most Valuable Player trophy before the game by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
The Thunder achieved Lawler’s Law (first team to 100 wins) with 8:28 left in the fourth quarter, this on the same night that Lawler, 76, the longtime Clippers broadcaster, told The Times he was coming back for at least one more season. Lawler said he didn’t want it to appear as if he was being swept out with the controversy surrounding the comments of current owner Donald Sterling.
Also on Wednesday, The Times reported that co-owner Shelly Sterling, Donald’s wife, planned to fight to keep control of the team if her husband is forced to sell. Silver has urged owners to force Donald Sterling to sell the team. The NBA had no comment on Shelly Sterling’s intent.
The meager Clipper effort was led by J.J. Redick with 18 points. Chris Paul had 17 and Matt Barnes had 11. But what was most troubling were the numbers associated with Griffin, who had only 15 points on 5 for 13 shooting.
The Clippers were also miserable in rebounding, losing that battle, 52-36.
The Thunder shot 51% and the Clippers shot 45%.
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers tried to build some momentum for Game 3 by leaving in many of his starters even after the game appeared decided. But it was to no avail.
The Clippers' second team did close the score to nine late in the game against the Thunder starters but by then the game was decided.
So now, it’s a best-of-five series. The Clippers now have the home court advantage with Games 3, 4 and 6 (if necessary) at Staples Center.
Thunder 94, Clippers 77 (end of third quarter)
Can the Clippers come back from 17 points down with one quarter left to play? Probably not.
After three quarters of Game 2 on Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OKC holds a 94-77 lead.
The Clippers lead the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series, 1-0. Games 3 and 4 will be at Staples Center.
The duo of Kevin Durant (28 points) and Russell Westbrook (25) seemed more than the Clippers could handle. Even defensive standout Thabo Sefolosha came alive with 12 points for the game.
J.J. Redick leads the Clippers with 18 points, with Chris Paul adding 17 and Matt Barnes 11. Missing from the offense was Blake Griffin, who had nine points on miserable 4-of-12 shooting.
Another area the Clippers were failing was rebounding, with the Thunder hlding a 40-27 advantage.
Part of the problem for the Clippers were the easy shots the Thunder was getting, which caused Clippers Coach Doc Rivers to burn a few timeouts to try and refocus his team. It didn’t work.
The Clippers looked exhausted and lacking the energy the crowd was giving the Thunder.
Westbrook gave the Thunder a 12-point lead with about five minutes to play in the quarter.
And it was shortly after that when the wheels came off the Clippers. A three-pointer by Sefolosha followed by a Clipper turnover and a Sefolosha breakaway was followed by an inbounds steal that led to a Westbrook three. Then Serge Ibaka scored and the Thunder had a 20-point lead after an 11-0 run.
At this point, it looked like the Clippers were done.
Thunder 61, Clippers 56 (halftime)
All things considered, the Clippers need to feel pretty good about where they are at halftime during Game 2 of the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals on Wednesday.
After a slow first quarter they outscored the Oklahoma City Thunder, 28-24, in the second quarter to close their deficit to five points, 61-56, lead at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
Kevin Durant, who scored 17 points in the first quarter, cooled in the second, when he only scored four. But Russell Westbrook was there for nine points. The two main Thunder weapons were a combined 15 for 25 from the field in the first half.
The Clippers were led by J.J. Redick with 16 points on six-of-eight shooting. While Redick is an important part of the offense, you know the team isn’t hitting on all points when he’s the leading scorer
After a couple points by Chris Paul and a two by Thunder center Steven Adams to start the quarter, the most unlikely of players came to the rescue for the Clippers.
Glen (Big Baby) Davis proceeded to score six straight Clippers points and then Paul made it a three-point game with a basket and a three-pointer with 6:37 to play in the half.
In fact, Davis was four-for-five with five rebounds in the quarter.
The Clippers closed the margin to one three times -- 46-45 after a Paul three, 49-48 after a Griffin put-back and 51-50 following a Redick jumper -- before they took the lead, 52-51, with 4:08 to play on another Griffin bucket.
Getting Griffin into the game is key for the Clippers. He scored only five points in the half on two-for-eight shooting.
The Thunder closed the quarter strong with a 6-0 run on four foul shots by Durant and a basket by Serge Ibaka.
And then, with 27 seconds left in the quarter, the lights went out. Well not all the lights but most of them. But there was enough light to finish the quarter in a cozy atmosphere, so the coaches and referees decided to play.
No one scored and the Thunder took a five-point lead into the second half.
Thunder 37, Clippers 28 (end of first quarter)
The Thunder was certainly hoping to feed off the emotion of Kevin Durant being presented the Most Valuable Player award by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. And things were looking even better when Chris Paul picked up a foul after nine seconds and Blake Griffin after 30.
But midway through the quarter you knew the bounce effect was still in play as Durant started to take over the game. He finished the quarter with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
It allowed the Thunder to take a 37-28 lead after the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. The Clippers lead the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series, 1-0.
Not surprisingly, Russell Westbrook was also a force in the first quarter with 10 points for the Thunder. Oklahoma City shot 64% in the first 12 minutes.
Perhaps one of the more telling stats for the Clippers is that they were outrebounded, 14-3. A couple of other indicators: Griffin 1 point, Paul 0.
The first half of the quarter was evenly played. J.J. Redick hit all four of his shots, including two three-pointers. He was the Clippers leading scorer with 10.
The Clippers were even up by four points, 18-14, before things started to switch thanks to Durant.
Russell Westbrook made a basket with 6:13 left in the quarter and then Durant made three consecutive shots to give the Thunder a 22-18 lead before Clippers Coach Doc Rivers called timeout.
Did it help? Nope. Durant came out and made a three-pointer. In fact, Daren Collison, playing for Paul after he picked up his second foul, made one of two free throws but then Westbrook came back with a bucket to complete a 13-1 run by the Thunder.
The Thunder used the remainder of the quarter to stretch the lead to nine.
So how do the Clippers top their performance in Game 1?
Well, they probably don’t.
The Clippers' 17-point win on Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City was a surprise to most, especialy the Thunder. And the game really wasn’t that close.
It gave the Clippers a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal playoff series heading into Game 2 tonight in Oklahoma City.
Conventional thinking is when a road team wins Game 1 they tend to let down in Game 2. Go back to the Clippers' series against Golden State. The Warriors won Game 1 at Staples Center and then the Clippers won easily in Game 2.
But when has this postseason been conventional?
One thing you can likely count on is that Chris Paul will not go 10 of 12 from the field, including eight three-pointers, as he did in Game 1.
Before the game, Kevin Durant of the Thunder was to be presented with the league Most Valuable Player award by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Durant’s comments crediting his mother in a Tuesday news conference won him a lot of fans.
Silver was less talkative on Wednesday and refused to answer any questions about the continuing drama surrounding Donald Sterling and now his wife Shelly, who told The Times she wants to retain owenrship of the team.
How the Sterling drama plays out may be years in the making. How Game 2 finishes will be known in a few hours.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times