Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Thunder grind out a tough win over the Clippers

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder looked to have things well in hand half way through the third quarter, but had to fend off a late challenge from the Los Angeles Clippers as they took a very valuable victory away from the Staples Center.

Leading by as much as 17 points, the Thunder looked like they were going to cost to the finish line with a handy victory, but the Clippers weren’t dropping this one without a fight.

Kevin Durant struggled mightily from the field, but Russell Westbrook looked sharp and fresh as he took to dismantling the Clipper backcourt. Westbrook finished the game with 30pts, 11rebs, 6ast and 2stls (and only 1 turnover) as he guided the Thunder to a 107-101 victory. Durant still had 27 points of his own but struggled to find his range shooting just 33% from the floor and only hitting 1 of his 7 three point attempts.

At times, the Thunder defense looked impenetrable. They pressured the ball handlers, got into the passing lanes and made the Clippers cough the ball up. The Thunder were able to get out in transition and break the game open. They forced 16 Clipper turnovers while giving up just 8 themselves which was ultimately the difference in the game.

Blake Griffin (30pts, 12rebs) was clearly the Clippers best, but Chris Paul made it interesting as he keyed a run through the third and fourth quarters that saw this game go down to the wire.

The Thunder though were able to steady and knock down key free throws to keep the Clippers at arms reach. A last ditch long range effort from JJ Redick missed and the Thunder held on for win number 57.

Not only did this tie the regular season between these two teams at 2-2 but it also gave the Thunder a little more breathing room as the #2 seed in the West. They are now 2.5 games clear of the Clippers and 3 games behind the Spurs for the #1 seed.

Game Notes:

  • Some real positives come out of this one for the Thunder. Their effort on the defensive side of the ball was as good as we have seen all season and they were able to limit the number of turnovers they had on their end.
  • Russell Westbrook shot the ball at 50% forced numerous turnovers, had 12 rebounds and committed just 1 turnover. It was one of his best performances this season as he has struggled to find consistency returning from injury and with his minutes being managed.
  • The Thunder won and Durant was not at his best. A horrid shooting night for the MVP favorite, but he still managed to influence the game. He won’t have many shooting nights like this, but it was great to see others pick up the slack and keep the Thunder competitive.
  • Thabo Sefolosha played his second game since returning from injury. He is still far from his best, but he looked very good out there doing a number of critical things. The Thunder were +13 with him on the floor.

Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder

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