The Oklahoma City Thunder earned their second straight road win tonight. Playing on the second night of a back to back they beat the Clippers 127-117 in the Staples Center. The game wasn’t always going in favor of OKC, but after much resiliency they ended up on top.
The Thunder got off to another horrible start, much like last night against the Lakers. This time, it was more poor defense that lead to the Clippers jumping out on top early. The Clippers started out shooting 6/7 from the floor and had 10 out of their first 15 points inside the paint. As far as offense goes, Russ was 1/5 to start and the offense couldn’t really find a rhythm. The only guy getting it done was Carmelo Anthony who was 4/4 for 10 points in only nine minutes.
The second quarter didn’t start out much better than the first for OKC. The Clippers opened it with a 5-0 run before the Thunder finally scored. Then, they would go on to outscore OKC 13-7 over the next 3 minutes. The tides started to turn for OKC when Jerami Grant got a huge block. At this point, the Thunder’s defense began to step it up. This was huge considering the amount of damage that the Clippers were doing on the inside. They scored 42 points in the paint in the first half, which is more than the Thunder allow for the entire game on average. A couple of 3’s from Russ and Terrance Ferguson at the end of half tied it up at 64-64.
OKC once again started out the third quarter a little bit on the slow side. The Clippers hit a shot right at the buzzer of the shot clock on the opening possession, which sparked a bit of momentum for them. They would go on to force Billy Donovan to call a quick timeout. Coming out of the timeout OKC hit another barrage of 3’s and went on a 10-0 scoring run. This is the point of the game when the Thunder really began to take over. Carmelo Anthony was forced to take a seat with 5 fouls in the third quarter, which caused a few problems within the Thunder offense. The Clippers mounted a comeback and actually held the lead heading into the fourth quarter after trailing by 8.
The fourth and final quarter was a thing of beauty for OKC. Jerami Grant got things going to start the quarter with a layup that he was fouled on. The second unit mounted their own scoring run which got up to 12-0 before the Clippers finally scored. Any attempt at a comeback was essentially too little too late for LA at this point. The Thunder dominated throughout the entire quarter and allowed only one offensive rebound during the final period.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Andre Roberson Needs to Get Healthy as Soon as Possible.
The Thunder were dominated for the most part in the paint tonight. While Andre Roberson wouldn’t be defending the big guys in the paint, his perimeter defense would allow the bigs for OKC to defend better on the inside. For example, when our guards got beat on the perimeter our bigs were forced to help over which led to wide open dunks for DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. It’s safe to say that having Andre Roberson on the court makes the entire defense better.
- Billy Donovan Stood Up For His Guys
The Thunder Guys have been the first to criticize Billy Donovan for his relaxed personality on the bench. However, we aren’t the only ones to do so. During the first half OKC was having a rough go at it, and simply couldn’t get a foul called in their favor. Finally, Billy D had enough and stood up for his guys. He received a technical foul which led to a free throw for the Clippers. The free throw would immediately become a no-factor when OKC came back from behind to tie the game at halftime. Perhaps if Billy D hadn’t stood up for his guys they wouldn’t have made that come back. It’s nice to see him stand up and ignite a fire in his guys.
- This Team Must Play at Their Tempo
The start of tonight’s game was very similar to the start of yesterday’s game against the Lakers. This team has to stop coming out and playing to the level of their opponent. They can get away with it when they play lesser opponents, but coming out flat won’t cut it against the top competition in the league. When this team plays at their tempo they really control the game. It starts on defense and leads to offense. Once this problem is solved, the Thunder will stay in control of more games.
Last Game of Road Trip
The Thunder will head to Phoenix to play their final game of this road trip on Sunday night. The game will start at 7:00 PM CST, and it will be televised on FSOK. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM. Phoenix got off to a rough start, but they’ve been playing well lately. However, if OKC can contain Devin Booker they should have an easy game on their hands.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.