The Oklahoma City Thunder took a short trip over to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers Friday night. In a frustrating and physical game, the Thunder came out on the short side. The Clippers started the game on a huge run and finished on one. It was simply too much for a team without their best player to come out on top.
The Thunder got off to one of their worst starts in franchise history. At one point, the Clippers led 16-0. Paul George and Dennis Schroder were able to get a little bit of offense going, but not quite enough to get OKC back in the game. After scoring the first couple of points for the Thunder, George and Schroder finished the quarter a combined 2-14.
Despite being 2-18 from outside the paint, the Thunder began working their way back into the game during the second quarter. Oklahoma City focused on defense which led to some offensive success on the other end of the floor. The bench came in huge, outscoring the starters 25-21 for the first half. A phenomenal first half performance from Alex Abrines and Raymond Felton kept the Thunder in the game. The Clippers led 48-46 at halftime.
Patrick Patterson hit a corner three at the start of the third quarter to give OKC the lead. The Thunder were able to build on the momentum of the Patterson three with some defensive stops. OKC was able to hold a steady lead for the majority of the third quarter, but it always felt like the Clippers were within reach.
The Clippers began making the Thunder work on offense, no longer giving up easy baskets. Without Russell Westbrook on the floor to create shots for other players, the Thunder started to struggle to find the basket. Meanwhile, the Clippers were breaking down the defense of the Thunder to find easy buckets. They would go on a 15-3 run to defeat the Thunder 108-92.
Thunder Player of the Game
The Thunder would have never been in this game without the help of Alex Abrines, that is why he is deserving of the player of the game. Abrines came in and had success driving to the basket and hitting shots from outside. At one point, he hit a transition three that completely shifted the momentum of the game. He finished with 10 points and 2 assists. Although it wasn’t enough to get the Thunder a win, he certainly put the team in a position to make a comeback.
3 Quick Thoughts
• This Team Needs Russell Westbrook.
The Thunder clearly looked like a team that was missing their best player Friday night. Don’t get me wrong, the Thunder have a very talented roster outside of Westbrook. They are more than capable of winning games on their own. That being said, there’s certain situations that having a guy like Russell Westbrook can without a doubt give you an advantage.
Late in the game the offense of the Thunder completely stalled. That’s where Russell Westbrook comes into play. He is not only a scorer, but he creates shots for the guys around him. Paul George had an extremely difficult time finding his shot tonight. If Westbrook is in play to create shots, I think George has a much better night on the offensive end.
• The Bench is the Key to Success.
The second unit is the only reason why the Thunder had a lead in this game. Alex Abrines and Raymond Felton had a great game combining for 22 points. If the Thunder can get this kind of performance from their bench every night, they will be a tough team to beat.
• Steven Adams is the Foundation to the Offense.
Steven Adams is the kind of guy who gets the job done when his number is called. That begs the question, why doesn’t the Thunder call his number more often? Adams was 8-11 for 17 points and brought down 18 rebounds.
There’s no doubt that Adams should be getting more looks. I’d love for him to take about 15 shots per game. Whenever the Thunder is struggling to hit shots from outside, you always have Adams as a reliable option inside.
The Thunder will be traveling home this weekend to play their home opener in the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Tip-off will be at 6:00 PM CST. The game will be televised on FSOK and broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
Oklahoma City will take on Sacramento in what should be an easy win for the Thunder. This may also be the return of Russell Westbrook. Returning against a team like the Kings would be ideal for Westbrook to get back into his rhythm. It’s safe to say the state of Oklahoma is looking forward to Sunday night!