Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Thunder beat the Clippers to tie the series at 1-1

 

After receiving his MVP trophy during a pregame ceremony, Kevin Durant urged the fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena to be as loud as possible. The fans accepted Durant’s challenge and passed with flying colors. In return, the Thunder’s star forward fed off of the energy provided by the fans and came out firing. In the first quarter alone Durant scored 17 points on 7-11 shooting. His running mate Russell Westbrook was not far behind with 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in the quarter.  Chris Paul picked up 2 quick fouls and had to head to the bench, taking some pressure off of the OKC defense and putting the Clippers in a tough spot early. Although the Thunder showed improvement in their defensive intensity from game one, they were still unable to keep the Clippers offense in check in the first quarter, allowing LA to shoot 57.9% from the field and 4-6 from deep. Fortunately for the Thunder, their offensive attack was simply better. Shooting 64% they found themselves leading 37-28 after one.

In the second quarter the Clippers picked up their game offensively. Led in the quarter by Chris Paul’s 9, they also got a combined 12 points from JJ Redick and Glen Davis. The Clippers offensive success did not translate to the defensive side of the ball. Even though Durant did not make a field goal in the quarter, the high-octane attack of Russell Westbrook continued as the Thunder point guard scored 9 points while adding 3 rebounds and 2 assists to give him a halftime line of 19/6/5.  At the end of the second quarter, there was a lighting malfunction in the arena forcing the teams to play the final 27 seconds in the dark. Reports indicated that the issue stemmed from some bad weather in the area. Fortunately the problem was resolved during half time and the third quarter was able to begin on time with OKC leading 61-56.

The second half started off with a bang for the Thunder. Kevin Durant set the tone early by knocking down a long three pointer. From that point on the quarter was dominated by Russell Westbrook and the surprising performance of Thabo Sefolosha. Westbrook continued his all-around play from the first half by posting 6 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in the quarter. More than anything, Westbrook used his energy and athleticism to impact the game in many ways. Sefolosha who has struggled throughout the playoffs had a breakout quarter scoring 12 points on 5-5 shooting as well as coming up with two key steals. The Clippers found themselves in foul trouble in the quarter as their key defensive player DeAndre Jordan picked up his fourth and fifth fouls. With Jordan on the bench the Thunder were able to hit the offensive glass and come up with 7 second chance points. As they did in game seven of the Memphis series, OKC took complete control of the game in the third quarter leading by as many as 20 at one point and finishing the quarter up 94-77.

Russell Westbrook’s domination continued in to the early parts of the fourth quarter as he used his post game to lead to easy mid-range jump shots. Although the Thunder’s intensity noticeably declined in the quarter they were able to hold off the Clippers and pick up a 112-101 victory.

After a disappointing game one the Thunder bounced back with a terrific performance to tie the series. Led by their superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook the rest of the team followed suit and played a solid all-around game. No Clippers player scored more than 18 points showing that the Thunders defensive issues of game one were resolved on Wednesday night. Westbrook picked up his third triple-double in his last five games while Durant was only one assist away from a triple double himself. Most importantly, OKC was in control for the entirety of the game, something that has been rare for them in these playoffs. Heading in to game three on Friday in LA, the Thunder have to be confident that they can continue this type of play and make a push towards the Western Conference Finals. Check back in tomorrow for more reactions on the game from the writers of Thunderous Intentions.

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Tags: 2014 NBA Playoffs Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook

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