Kawhi Leonard scored a game-high 25 points as the Los Angeles Clippers (42-19) held the Oklahoma City Thunder (37-24) under 100 points to knock off the Thunder 109-94 Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Clippers jumped ahead of the Thunder early, but OKC was able to cut an 11-point deficit early in the second quarter to a single point, only to see Los Angeles go on a 16-0 run. L.A. entered halftime 59-47, and despite OKC’s best efforts, the Clippers continued to pour it on in the second half, extending their lead to 21 at one point.
The Thunder was able to trim the deficit to single digits on a couple of occasions in the second half, but the Clippers’ defense was too much, and OKC could not make shots when it counted.
Lack of Discipline is X-Factor
The Clippers are a great team, and they are undoubtedly better than the Thunder, but tonight’s game should have been much closer. Simply put, the Thunder gave away a number of possessions which the Clippers did a fantastic job of converting into points.
OKC has done a great job at taking care of the ball so far this season averaging just 13.5 turnovers. Tonight was another fine example of this as they gave it up just 13 times. Still, those 13 turnovers ended up being extremely costly as LA was able to turn those mistakes into 25 points. When you lose by 15, you can’t help but wonder “what if?” when taking a look at those numbers.
The Clippers are a great team because of their defensive abilities. They made it really hard for the Thunder to score tonight. However, OKC was careless with the ball, particularly in the first half, and LA doesn’t need any help at scoring easy buckets.
Has OKC Become Predictable?
For the second game in a row, the Thunder was held below 100 points by their opponent. All season long this team has seen a variety of guys step up and score, and many nights there are at least six different players scoring in double digits.
Last Friday in the embarrassing loss to the Bucks, the Thunder had just 3 guys finish with double-digit points, and tonight was nearly the same result as just 4 different players finished with at least 10—Dennis Schröder (24), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (15), Danilo Gallinari (15), and Chris Paul (14).
The Bucks and the Clippers are both elite teams in the NBA, and perhaps they are really just THAT much better than OKC, but if the Thunder has become predictable, particularly on the offensive end, adjustments need to be made quickly. With just 21 games left in the regular season, any changes that need to be made need to happen quickly, or else any chance of making noise in the playoffs can be thrown out the window.
SEGABABA in Detroit
On Wednesday night the Thunder will take on the Detroit Pistons (20-42) on the road in the second game of a back-to-back. The Pistons have won just 1 of their last 9 games, and despite the fact that the first meeting between these two teams was a narrow 108-101 victory by OKC, the Thunder should have no problem taking care of business in the Motor City.
Tip-off for that game is at 6 PM, and it will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
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