Thunder 108 – Clippers 110 | Rapid Recap

After a solid first quarter where Oklahoma City led by eight points, the Thunder defense fell apart over the course of the second and third quarters, and the offense could not get the job done in the fourth to pull out a win as the Thunder fell 108-110 to the visiting Los Angeles Clippers. The Thunder had multiple chances to try to pull out the win near the end of the game, but the Clippers proved why they look like the best team in the league right now as they managed to hold the lead until the final buzzer sounded.

Poor Shot Selection Dooms Thunder

As a team, Oklahoma City had a fairly decent shooting night, making 43.2% from the field and 57.1% from three. Unfortunately, half of the Thunder’s shots came from Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo who combined to make only 15/43 from the field.

Oladipo started the game hot on 4/4 shooting, including 3/3 from three, for eleven points, but he made only one of his next ten shots as he finished 6/18 from the floor. Westbrook was not much better as he shot 6/17 from the floor through the first three quarter. He shot a little bit better in the fourth quarter, going 3/8, but it was not good enough.

While neither player shot very well, the real cause for concern was the reason for the poor shooting: shot selection. With the Thunder down by two and a little over four seconds left on the clock, Westbrook pulled up for an off-balance, ill-advised three from 28 feet, which clanged off the back of the rim. There was no time for a rebound for an attempt at another shot, and the Clippers walked away with the win.

While this type of shooting night will be good enough to get wins over average teams, it clearly will not suffice against a top-tier team like the Clippers. As the leader of the team, Russell Westbrook has to take higher-percentage shots, and when that opportunity is not there, he has to trust his teammates to get open and be ready to catch the ball.

Defense Gives Up Big Runs

For the second game in the row, the Thunder began the game with absolutely stellar defense in the opening quarter only to let up in the second quarter and give up way too many points.

After the first quarter, the Thunder led 24-16, and it appeared that the defense was in for a brilliant night against a formidable foe. However, the Los Angeles Clippers seemingly could not miss in the second period as the Thunder gave up 34 points, which tied the game at 50 apiece at the half.

The start to the second half was much like the second quarter as the Thunder allowed the Clippers to start on a 15-6 run and finish by outscoring Oklahoma City 32-24. The Thunder came out in the fourth on their own 8-1 run, but despite Oklahoma City’s comeback efforts, the defense could not get enough stops as the Clippers’ offense led Los Angeles to the win.

Thunder Tie Franchise Record for Threes

The Thunder shot a lights out 16/28 from behind the arc tonight. The 16 makes ties the franchise record for Oklahoma City set by the Thunder on January 29, 2014 in Miami against the Heat on 16/27 shooting.

Six different Thunder players hit a three, including Andre Roberson who shot 3/6, but perhaps the most interesting stat to note is that Thunder Rookie Domantas Sabonis shot 4/5 from behind the arc, making him only the second rookie in Oklahoma City history to make four threes in multiple games.

Serge Ibaka Returns to the Peake

Oklahoma City hosts the Orlanda Magic on Sunday at 6 PM as former Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka makes his return to Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first time since being traded to Orlando over the summer. The Magic have struggled out of the gate and currently have a 3-6 record. Expect loud cheers and likely a tribute video for Ibaka prior to tip-off.

Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.

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