Clippers hold off Oklahoma City Thunder, 110-108, to earn best start in franchise history
All evening, the Clippers had their faith tested as Coach Doc Rivers stressed to his players to stay the course against Oklahoma City despite some unsettling moments.
The Clippers believed in their coach’s philosophy and his plan, and that belief was their guide to escaping with a last-second 110-108 victory over the Thunder on Friday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Not until Russell Westbrook missed an attempt for a game-winning three-pointer just before time expired could the Clippers breathe easily.
Rivers said he could sense some tension when he told his players to stick to letting poor-shooting Andre Roberson and rookie Domantas Sabonis shoot three-pointers for the Thunder. Rivers could sense some tension when he told his players they were going to build a defensive wall around Westbrook.
Even though Roberson wound up going three for six from three-point range for nine of his 13 points, and Sabonis made four of five attempts for all 12 of his points, and even though the Thunder shot 57.1% (16 for 28) from long range, the Clippers still agreed it was the right strategy in the end.
Westbrook had 29 points, but he missed 16 of his 25 shots, the final one being the biggest with the game on the line.
“This is one of those games that you can lose your trust in,” Rivers said. “Roberson was making threes, Sabonis was making threes and we’re telling our guys to stay and clog the paint. And they are looking at me, like, ‘Why?’ We did it and it worked out for us. This is one of those games that you could have lost trust easily in what we were doing and we didn’t.
“At the end of the day, we won the game, so I think it actually probably gives me more equity to try more stuff.”
The Clippers improved the NBA’s best record to 8-1 by defeating the only team to have beaten them this season. Several players made key contributions.
Blake Griffin powered his way to 25 points, making half of his 20 shots.
Chris Paul directed in his usual stellar fashion, finishing with 10 assists, 17 points and six rebounds. DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Sixth man Jamal Crawford gave the Clippers 11 of his important 19 points in the fourth quarter. His three-pointer gave the team a five-point lead late.
But when he missed one of two free throws with 10.3 seconds left, leaving the Clippers with a 110-108 lead instead of a three-point cushion, that left the door open for Westbrook and the Thunder.
Westbrook, however, missed his three-point try, and Crawford got the defensive rebound and covered the ball up.
“Yeah, a big-time trust game for us,” Paul said. “You know, Vic [Oladipo] got going early. I think Sabonis was four of five from three, Roberson was three for six, and we just stuck to the game plan. We kept trying to build a wall around Russ and kept making those guys make plays.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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