The Oklahoma City Thunder played a terrific game of basketball – for 40 minutes – until a fourth quarter collapse allowed the Los Angeles Clippers to stage a comeback and a come from behind victory to tie the series at 2-2.
The Thunder lead by as much as 22 points during the game, but found themselves on the wrong side of the final score line after a furious comeback in the last term allowed the Clippers to have their noses in front as time expired.
It appeared as though the Thunder were going to run away with Game 4 and take a commanding series lead. They started brilliantly in the first term scoring 32 points while limiting the Clippers to just 15. OKC looked sharp on both ends of the floor and were really working the Clippers over. The energy that the Thunder were bringing was unable to be matched through most of the game and although the Clippers were able to make a little ground through the second and third quarters – they still seemed unable to find the answers needed to defeat the Thunder.
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant again lead the way for the Thunder, and the defensive focus was making life very difficult for Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Serge Ibaka was controlling the defensive painted area as the Clippers were held off at a safe double digit distance – until the fourth quarter arrived.
With their backs against the wall, staring down the barrel of a 3-1 series deficit and heading back to Oklahoma City for Game 5, the Clippers found an extra gear. They started to move the ball and find some cracks in the Thunder defense. They were also able to get in front of Durant and Westbrook, making it harder for them to influence the game in the same manner they had for the previous three quarters.
Chris Paul started a mini-rally and this gave the Clipper team and crowd hope. After six straight points, Jamal Crawford was able to steal the basketball, giving it to Darren Collison for a huge jam and they crow – and Clippers – were back in the hunt. Down the stretch, the Clippers were just able to execute more effectively. The Thunder tightened up a little and that was all that was needed for the Clippers to take full advantage.
LA can score in a hurry and they did – outscoring the Thunder 38-24 in the last period to snatch the win and tie the series. The Thunder will rue this one as it would have given them the upper hand in the series and would have put them within one win of another Western Conference Finals appearance. Instead, the Thunder will now head home, re-group and focus on what changes they can make to get the all important Game 5 win at Chesapeake Arena.
Kevin Durant had 40 points and 7 rebounds, and Westbrook added 27 pts, 8 ast and 6 rebs in the loss.
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Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder